PSATInformation about and links to learning resources for the PSAT
The PSAT: What It Is
The “Preparatory SAT” is an opportunity for high school students to have the experience of taking a test with the types of questions that are on the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a version of the test taken in the 10th and/or 11th grade that gives high-scoring students an opportunity to win a college scholarship. Students in the 8th, 9th, and 10th grades can also take other versions of the PSAT with grade-appropriate levels of difficulty.
What It Covers
The PSAT includes the same types of questions as the SAT and consists of three parts:
Reading Test: Passage-based, multiple-choice critical reading questions that measure students’ ability to understand different aspects of the meaning of several passages.
Writing and Language Test: Passage-based, multiple-choice questions that measure students’ ability to understand how to correct and improve several pieces of writing.
Math Test: Multiple-choice and grid-in questions in two sections (with and without a calculator) covering a number of mathematics skills and problem-solving concepts.
All forms of the PSAT are shorter than the SAT and do not include the optional essay.
For details about the format of the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10, see this page.
For details about the PSAT 8/9, which is slightly different from the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10, refer to this page.
When It Is Given
The PSAT is usually given once a year to students in the 8th-11th grades.
Students in the 8th and 9th grades can take the PSAT 8/9 on a date determined by their school or district.
Students in the 10th grade can take the PSAT 10 in the spring on a date determined by their school or district.
Students in the 10th and 11th grades can take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. This page has dates for the current school year.
How It Is Scored
On the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10, students receive an overall score of between 320 and 1520; 160-760 from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section, which includes the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test, and 160-760 from the Math Section, which comprises two parts. There are also subscores that more specifically measure various skills; see this page for details.
One the PSAT 8/9, students receive an overall score of between 240 and 1440; 120-720 from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section, which includes the Reading Test and the Writing and Language Test, and 120-720 from the Math Section, which comprises two parts. There are also subscores that more specifically measure various skills; see this page for details.
Note that unlike older versions of the PSAT, the current version does not penalize incorrect guesses; the scaled score is based on the total number of correct answers, and there is no benefit to skipping questions.
What’s the Difference Between the SAT and PSAT? (College Board): A thorough discussion of all the differences between the SAT and the PSAT.
Scholarships and Recognition: Learn more about scholarship opportunities for students who take the PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT.
PSAT Student Guides: These student guides contain detailed information about each test, including sample questions.
PSAT/NMSQT Practice Tests: The College Board has made two full-length PSAT/NMSQT tests available for practice, along with detailed answer explanations, scoring guides, and answer sheets.
PSAT 10 Practice Test: These materials are not made easily available on the College Board website, but as of this writing they can be viewed or downloaded directly from the links below:
- 2015 PSAT 10 (Practice Test #1)
- PSAT 10 Practice Test #1 Scoring Guide
- PSAT 10 Practice Answer Sheet
PSAT 8/9 Practice Test: A practice test, answer sheet, and scoring guide are available in the “Practice” section on this page, along with other resources.
See my SAT page for a thorough list of additional resources for practice.