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One of the concerns we hear most from parents and students as they prepare for standardized tests is that they find themselves running out of time on the reading section. Given how rarely the real world imposes limits as strict as those on the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, this is certainly no surprise. It is, however, an opportunity for college-bound students to take a moment and consider how often this fundamentally important skill is entirely overlooked.

So, how fast do you read? If you've never done it, try timing yourself! You can download a printable worksheet below, but here is a simple way to use a summer read to get a sense of your average words-per-minute:

1. Count the number of words on 3 lines, then divide by 3.

____ total words

/3 = ____ words per line

2. Count the number of lines on the page.

Lines per page: ____

3. Multiply the average words per line by the number of lines on the page.

____ words per line

X ____ lines per page

= ____ words per page

4. Multiply the average number of words on a page by the number of pages read.

____ words per page

X ____ number of pages

= ____ total words

5. Divide total words by the number of minutes read.

____ total words

/ ____ minutes

= ____ my WPM speed

6. So, how long will it take to read this novel?

____ words per page

X ____ number of pages = ____

/ ____ my WPM speed = ____

/ 60 = ____ hours.

Download PDF • 927KB

This six-session, small group program - geared especially for ninth and tenth graders - is a recommended precursor to the (P)SAT and/or ACT prep programs.

The goal of the program is to train students to develop a reading range from 300 wpm to 1000 wpm. Ideally, once students have pushed themselves to high ‘practice’ speeds, their ‘habit’ reading rate will rise as well. Ultimately, students will become flexible readers in that they will learn how to adapt their reading speed based upon purpose and content.

Study skills and note-taking will also be addressed. Additionally, students will learn how to approach reading standardized test passages, newspapers, periodicals, reviews, novels, and textbooks.

CLASS SIZE: 2-4 maximum

DATES: SECTION 1: Wednesdays, June 22 – July 27

SECTION 2: Thursdays, July 28 – September 1

TIME: 5:00-6:30 pm, lesson 1 ONLY; 5:00-6:00 pm remaining lessons

LOCATION: 11700 Charen Lane, Potomac, MD (2 blocks from Churchill HS)

TUITION: $750 (includes all materials)

For questions or to sign up your freshman or sophomore, please get in touch with us by phone (440-506-9880) or email (

Hope to see you there!

Updated: Apr 27

For most Montgomery County schools, this year's PSAT will be administered on October 12, 2022. Should your sophomore or junior prepare for the PSAT? The short answer is 'yes,' but before embarking on any PSAT preparation it’s important to have the facts – why it’s important and what it’s used for.

The PSAT is administered in-school as early as grade 8 through grade 11. Many parents are more mindful of the 10th grade PSAT and regard the one taken in 11th grade as superfluous. While the former is important, we strongly recommend focusing on the 11th-grade PSAT as it could potentially reap huge benefits for your teen.

Taking the PSAT as a 10th grader is primarily a great opportunity to experience the exam (timed, in-person, scantrons-and-all) which is why most high schools want their students to take it, but should sophomores prepare for the test?

We advise parents to have their students take this administration seriously. This does not mean enrolling in intensive preparation, but it does mean doing the best they can. We typically recommend our half-day PSAT Prep Workshop. It will give students an ideal overview of the core strategies which is typically sufficient.

  • By taking the exam seriously, students have a better idea of their score goal for the SAT, and what areas of weakness to focus on for further preparation (typically recommended the summer before junior year).

  • The PSAT can help to determine placement for AP classes, since those scores typically correlate with success on AP exams. This is an opportunity to test your teen’s skill sets and decide which AP courses to enroll in.

  • We use 10th grade PSAT scores as well as the results of the 60 Second ACT vs. SAT Assessment and 90 Second SAT and ACT Skill Set Assessments for program recommendations. In examining these scores, we also notice areas of weakness and may recommend that the student do more outside reading and/or take our Efficient Reading Training course – an excellent precursor to our ACT and SAT preparation.

The 11th grade PSAT is of course even more important, not only because the student will be taking the SAT and/or ACT that same year, but because as strong PSAT score can help students pay for college!

When we begin working with rising juniors over the summer, we not only know which is their better exam but also the optimum time to take that exam.

Here are 6 important reasons why juniors should take the PSAT seriously:

  1. The PSAT/NMSQT is the only variable used to qualify a student for a National Merit Scholarship. The other factors – i.e., enrolled in the appropriate grade – are used to determine eligibility.

  2. One of the most important variables for college ranking is the number of National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists accepted. Approximately 1.5 million students took the PSAT last year (and this year as well). Based on their scores. 50,000 were eligible for further consideration, 16,000 were selected as semifinalists, and 15,000 were ultimately selected as finalists. Usually about half will receive a $2500 National Merit Scholarship, but more importantly students recognized as Commended Scholars will have a significant advantage in the college application process.

  3. At present, there are over 50 colleges and universities offering FULL tuition scholarships to NMS Finalists and partial tuition scholarships to NMS Semifinalists. (See more information here)

  4. Being recognized as a Finalist or Semifinalist can give students a greater advantage in the application process than being named valedictorian, since admissions officers have no way to standardize grades across the 36,000+ public and private high schools in the country. Similarly, while achieving success as a star high school athlete is certainly something to be proud of, the numbers show that even NMS Commendations are ultimately a lot rarer!

  5. The score on the PSAT/NMSQT is factored differently than the SAT and ACT. Whereas the latter are based on number of right and incorrect answers, PSAT scores are determined by comparison with other students in the same state.

  6. It’s easier to become a NMS Finalist or Semifinalist than it is to get in an Ivy-League school! While only 4% students (on average) are accepted into an Ivy-League college, the chances of scoring in the 94th state percentile are much higher - on average a student is ten times more likely to receive a National Merit Commendation than to be accepted at an Ivy-League college or university.