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How to Prepare for the PSAE Test (Prairie State Achievement Exam)

Updated on January 18, 2012

Illinois students evaluate their 11th-grade student by use of the PSAE test. This Prairie State Achievement Exam consists of the ACT Plus and Ilinois-based educational achievement tests. All students should create a PSAE exam preparation plan.

The first component of the PSAE test is the ACT Plus. This is the commonly used national college entrance exam. The "Plus" means that 11th graders in Illinois take the standard multiple-choice ACT and the optional writing exercise.

There is also a science exam developed by the Illinois State Board of Education. This is the second part of the PSAE test. The third and final part is made up of two WorkKeys exams. One is in Applied Mathematics, and the other is Reading for Information.

Preparation for the ACT Plus can be done through the ACT's official study guide. Nowadays, you may wish to purchase the ACT Online Prep package. This has an overview of exam content, ACT practice tests, and other tools to help guide your preparation for the ACT Plus and PSAE test. It also has sample essays for the writing portion of the ACT Plus. This is a fairly inexpensive product, as it costs only about $20 for a year's worth of access. You can just cancel before the end of the first year if your child is done taking the ACT Plus and PSAE tests.

You may also purchase the paper and CD version, which is "The Real ACT Prep Guide - With CD." As of August 2011, that is about $31. It has 3 practice tests, each with the writing option. Note that the online version has one writing sample.

ACT also has study guides for both of the WorkKeys assessments on the PSAE test. It sells a technical manual for the Applied Mathematics and Reading for Information tests that are used the Illinois State Board of Education for the Prairie State Achievement Test. As of August 2011, the fee for each of these guides is $26.

The technical manuals contain the content outlines for these WorkKeys tests. Students will then need to use textbooks in those subjects (English and math) to review the substantive material applicable to the outlines found in the manuals.

Note: It is not possible to say exactly how to ace these ACT-made exams. There is some amount of natural ability that comes into play when doing the PSAE test and any other widely used assessment exam. But the more a student dives into the relevant textbooks and does reading and writing exercises, the better he will become at successfully taking achievement or aptitude tests.

As for the state science portion of the PSAE exam, the state board publishes a document called "Overview and Preparation Guide for PSAE Day 2." In that guide, it will tell you how to get ready for that science portion. There are also some extra WorkKeys practice tests and study material in that guide.


ACT Online Prep Package

WorkKeys Applied Mathematics Technical Manual

WorkKeys Reading for Information Technical Manual

Illinois State Board of Education: Overview and Preparation Guide for PSAE Day 2


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    • Sadie14 profile image

      Brittany B 

      7 years ago from U.S.

      That is great that they are putting a lot into these tests. It's very hard to study for these and I agree that you need a set plan to get started or the students will just become overwhelmed. Voted up!


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