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The PSAT/NMSQT® (or Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a preliminary version of the SAT that tests your skills in math, reading and writing. Prepping for the PSAT will help get you ready for the ACT and SAT, and it can open the door to a National Merit Scholarship or other awards.
About the PSAT
With $180 million in scholarships awarded to students who achieve high scores on the PSAT, how you perform on this exam can help you earn scholarship dollars that change the direction of your college planning.
Frequently asked questions
What is the PSAT?
The PSAT/NMSQT stands for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is designed to help you practice for the SAT, qualify for scholarships, and stand out to colleges. The PSAT is offered every year in mid-October at your high school. Some schools allow sophomores to take the PSAT as practice, but others allow only juniors to test.
Why take the PSAT?
Taking the PSAT gives you a chance to qualify for several scholarship programs, including the National Merit Scholarship Program. The top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT are recognized by the National Merit program and sent letters of commendation. More than 10,000 of these students share more than $47 million in National Merit Scholarship money.
How do you prepare for PSAT?
The test is predictable, so you should learn the structure and content and use that information to raise your score. Once you know the setup of the PSAT, you can develop a system for attacking the questions. Whether you use a book, a self-paced or teacher-guided class, or a private tutor, you should put in the work ahead of time so you can be confident and relaxed on test day.
How long is the PSAT?
The PSAT is 2 hours and 45 minutes long and is made up mostly of multiple-choice questions that test two subject areas: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. The latter is broken into a Reading Test, which is 60 minutes long, and a Writing & Language test, which is 35 minutes long. The No-Calculator section of the Math Test is 25 minutes long, and the Calculator section is 45 minutes long.
How is the PSAT scored?
PSAT score reports include a lot of information. You will receive a score ranging from 8 to 38 on each of the three tests (Reading, Writing & Language, and Math) and a score ranging from 160 to 760 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and for Math. Your overall PSAT score will range from 320 to 1520 and is calculated by adding your two area scores together. The average PSAT score is about a 1000.
When are PSAT scores released?
You will be able to access your PSAT scores online in December. Schools receive paper score reports in early December and may share these with students before scores are available online. Students who qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Competition will be notified in September of the following year.
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