2020 PSAT Course and Test Info Kit

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a contingency plan has been put in place to move the fall PSAT prep courses online should the need arise. All participants will be advised of any such changes in as timely a manner as possible.

What Is the PSAT?

The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a standardized test administered once a year, in October, to grade 10 and 11 students who are considering a college or university education in the United States. Designed by College Board, an American private nonprofit organization, the PSAT measures an individual’s ability to do post-secondary schoolwork by evaluating his or her skills in evidence-based reading, writing and language, and mathematical problem solving. More importantly, it provides the student with firsthand practice for the SAT, the admissions test that remains a standard-bearer of the U.S. college application process. Upon writing the PSAT, students will receive a comprehensive diagnostic report outlining their performance on each section of the test. This feedback will point out their test-taking patterns and identify areas of strength and weakness, information which can be used to establish a study plan in preparation for the SAT. Because PSAT scores are NOT reported to any American colleges, writing the test is considered a smart, if not essential, risk-free first step in applying to post-secondary schools in the U.S.

Test details

The PSAT allows students to practise writing a standardized test under strict time constraints in an environment similar to that of the SAT. The primary test day for the fall of 2020 is Wednesday, October 14 but host schools have the option of choosing Saturday, October 17 or Wednesday, October 28 as alternate dates.  Either way, results are expected to be available online by the week of Monday, December 7.

PSAT prep course

Both The Bishop Strachan School (BSS) and Trinity College School (TCS) have made arrangements for The Learning Curve Tutoring and Educational Services to provide a series of PSAT training sessions to interested grade 10 and 11 students. These courses are only open to those enrolled at the respective schools for the 2020/21 academic year. The BSS edition will take place on three consecutive Saturday mornings, starting September 19, whereas the TCS schedule is yet to be announced. In each case, instruction will be offered as part of two different packages:

PACKAGE 1: Classroom Instruction (2 Saturday morning classes at BSS; TCS schedule TBD)

This course will involve six hours of interactive classroom instruction in the fall and a personal performance analysis session in December to review each student’s results. These classes will focus on the two English sections of the PSAT (the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test), the two math sections (no-calculator and calculator-allowed) and test-taking strategies relating to both the multiple-choice and free-response formats (such as pacing drills and decision-making exercises). The syllabus is designed to demystify the PSAT and reduce the element of surprise by introducing participants to its language and format, and helping them develop game plans for each section. Simply put, the purpose of the course is to teach students how to use their existing knowledge of English and math concepts to answer standardized test questions. Among other skills, TLC will help students improve their deductive reasoning, shore up their grammar and sentence structure, embrace “reasonableness” as a means of dismissing math answers that don’t make sense, manage their pacing, maximize efficient use of time when reading sight passages, and explore context as a way of intuiting the meanings of more difficult words.

PACKAGE 2: Classroom Instruction (as above) + Practice Test, Evaluation and Review (1 Saturday workshop at BSS; TCS schedule TBD)

At this level, a full-length practice test and feedback session will be administered upon completion of the instructional portion of the course. This will include tabulation of the results, and a full explanation of the scoring system, which can be quite complicated. Each participant will receive a full set of scores and an in-depth evaluation of his or her performance, including results related to level of difficulty and educated guessing. This workshop also gives students a chance to ask targeted questions about the PSAT and standardized testing, generally. Also included at this level is the December performance analysis session, the aim of which is to analyze the actual test results and plot a course of action for SAT prep.

Important Notes About Registration

Registration for the test and the prep course are done separately:

  • Students attending either The Bishop Strachan School or Trinity College School are instructed to meet with their guidance counsellors to sign up for the actual test, which will be written on Wednesday, October 14.  Students attending other schools are encouraged to contact their respective guidance departments for a list of local PSAT test centres and to book a spot.
  • To sign up for either prep course, please select “PSAT Prep Course Registration Form” from the Registration Forms drop-down menu, then follow the instructions there;
  • Just because a student has been registered for either the test OR the course doesn’t mean he or she is automatically signed up for the other!

The Bishop Strachan School – Thursday, September 17, 2020
Trinity College School – TBD

2020 PSAT Prep Course Dates

2020 BSS Course Dates:

Saturday, September 19 9am – noon Reading, Writing/Language
Saturday, September 26 9am – noon Math
Saturday, October 3 9am – 2pm Practice Test, Evaluation and Review
(package 2 course only)
Saturday, December 12 by appointment PSAT Performance Analysis and SAT Planning

2019 TCS Course Dates (2020 dates to be announced shortly):

Tuesday, September 24 6:15pm – 8:15pm Introduction, Reading
Tuesday, October 1 6:15pm – 8:15pm Writing/Language
Tuesday, October 8 6:15pm – 8:15pm Math
Tuesday, October 15 6pm – 9pm Practice Test
(package 2 course only)
Tuesday, October 22 6:15pm – 8:15pm Evaluation and Review
(package 2 course only)
December 2019 (TBA) by appointment. Performance Analysis and SAT Planning


Scheduling Conflicts
Organizing a course such as this one always presents scheduling challenges as some students are unable to participate due to conflicts with extra-curricular activities – leadership camp, competitive sports, volunteer obligations, etc. If your child cannot attend one or two of the above classes for such a reason, please note the date(s) on the registration slip, where indicated, and every effort will be made to book a make-up time. If most, or all, of the course dates are in conflict with other pursuits, please call The Learning Curve directly to make alternate arrangements – anything is possible!!!
Additional Course Information

1) Registration slips must be received and payments processed by The Learning Curve no later than the following dates:
– Thursday, September 17, 2020 (course at The Bishop Strachan School)
– TBD (course at Trinity College School)

The mailing address is:
The Learning Curve
35 Wyndfield Crescent
Whitby ON L1N 8L3

2) The course will be offered at two different levels, fees for which are as follows:
PACKAGE 1: Classroom Instruction ($295)2 Saturday morning classes at BSS; TCS schedule TBD; post-test performance analysis and SAT planning session
PACKAGE 2: Classroom Instruction + Performance Evaluation ($395)classes as above, practice test with evaluation and review; post-test performance analysis and SAT planning session

3) Payments are non-refundable and non-transferable.

4) All sessions at the Bishop Strachan School and Trinity College School will take place in classrooms to be confirmed after Labour Day. Both courses are only open to grade 10 and 11 students enrolled at the respective schools for the 2020/21 academic year.

5) The PSAT is a pencil-and-paper test, so absolutely no laptops will be permitted in the classrooms. Graphing calculators, however, will be allowed for the math sessions and practice tests. Students will be provided with study guides and related materials.

6) For more information, please contact The Learning Curve directly:
Colin McMahon, Director

NOTE: The actual PSAT will be written at The Bishop Strachan School and Trinity College School the morning of Wednesday, October 14, 2020. For information on other test centres, students are encouraged to contact their respective guidance departments. Registration and payment for the test itself must be arranged through the host school.