PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

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to, the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship
Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the
College Board and cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship
Corporation (NMSC) in the United States. Approximately 3.5 million
students take the PSAT/NMSQT each year. Read more about PSAT Prep:
Practice Tests – Math, Reading, Writing on the App Store.

The Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

The Preliminary SAT offers high school students a chance to measure their readiness to take the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). It also provides students with an opportunity to qualify for scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. In fact, another name for the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). PSAT measures a student’s ability to read critically, solve math problems, and write at college level. Read more to get details on PSAT prep, PSAT practice test, PSAT registration, PSAT test dates and PSAT scores.

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Why PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test is Important?

For students who plan to take the SAT test, taking the PSAT offers an opportunity to see what skills they have mastered and which they still need to improve. PSAT also offer students the chance to earn scholarship money through the NMSQT. Students in their junior year qualify to take this test. If they score high enough, students can qualify for a national merit scholarship amounting to $2,500. Some 8,300 students qualify each year for this award. Also, students who do not qualify for the $2,500 amount, but have good scores are eligible to receive other special scholarships.

Test Structure PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

The PSAT test has five sections: two in critical reading, two in math, and one in writing. The total time for the test is two hours and ten minutes. The two reading sections are 25 minutes long. The two math sections are 35 minutes, while the writing section is 30 minutes long. Between each section, the test administrators may give students the chance to stretch and possibly take a break.



Coverage Number

of Questions Time



Sentence completion, comprehension and critical reading

13 sentence completion; 35 critical reading questions

25 minutes each section

Math Arithmetic

number and operation, geometry, algebra, statistics,

probability and data analysis 28 multiple

choice; 10 student produced responses 35 minutes

each section

Writing Sentence and

paragraph correction 39 multiple

choice questions 30 minutes

Focus Areas

Reading: includes sentence completion questions. This section tests a student’s grasp of vocabulary, sentence structure, and reasoning. The second section in reading focuses on passage reading and comprehension. The student reads a passage then answers a number of questions based on the passage . Again, these are multiple choice questions where the student selects the best answer.

Math: The two sections in math combines multiple choice questions and student produced responses. The multiple choice questions present a problem along with four choices for answers. The student has to complete the requested problem and choose the right answer. Whereas, the student produced responses requires the student to work through the problem and write their answer. The math section tests arithmetic number and operation, geometry measurement, algebra functions, data analysis, statistics, and probability. The test administrators allow students to use calculators, but all the problems are doable with pen, paper, and mental calculation.

Writing: Tests each student’s ability to find and correct sentence errors and improve sentences and paragraphs of given text. For each question, the student reviews a sentence or paragraph. Students can choose from five multiple choice options and make their selection.

Tips to Prepare for PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

Since the PSAT happens in the fall of junior year, preparing for the test usually begins in the freshman year. Students should take classes in algebra and geometry to prepare for the math portions. Students should also work through advanced English classes to gain better reading comprehension and vocabulary.
In preparing for the PSAT, students should take practice tests and work through all types of questions on the test. Boot camps are also available for interested applicants to give them a boost in their PSAT skills.

Score and Grading of PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

The first step to scoring is to figure a student’s raw score. For each multiple choice question, a student earns a point for a correct answer and looses 1/4 (0.25) of a point for an incorrect answer. Unanswered questions receive no points. For student response answers in the math section, correct answers equal a point while incorrect answers receive no points.

Students get a final score between 20-80. Scores usually go to each student’s high school. The scores arrive in early December with online reports becoming available between December and February.

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Registration of PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

Registration for the PSAT happens at the school level. There is no online registration site for this test. Schools often present registration information to students through programs and flyers. Students can also contact their school counselor to register. For home-schooled children, contacting the local high school will commence the registration process.

Fees of PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

The PSAT test fee is $14, though schools generally charge an additional fee for administering this test.

Test Dates & Location of PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment

The PSAT happens on two dates every October. High schools throughout the United States choose one of those two dates. Students usually take the test on the date selected by their high school. However, for students who cannot take the test on that particular date, they can take the test at another high school on the second date.

This exam happens in high schools throughout the world. High schools administer and proctor the exams on site. They send the tests into the PSAT program for evaluation. International students usually take the test at their local high school with an English-speaking educator on one of the two dates available in October.

International Students writing PSAT: Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test

International students should contact their local high school to find out how to take the PSAT. Many schools around the world offer this test for students. For those who do not have a local school offering the test, an individual educator can proctor the exam for the student.