The PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT is a great primer for the SAT, and even the ACT, but it’s more than just a trial run. PSAT scores are used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit scholarships. More than 3.4 million high school students (mostly juniors and sophomores) take this nationwide, multiple-choice test every year.
What are the different sections?
The test measures a student’s skills in two core areas: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math, and is composed of three sections—Reading, Writing, and Math.
The total testing time is 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Each question is worth one point and there is no negative marking system. So, getting one incorrect answer won’t affect the score of correct ones.
|Section||Time Allocated||Questions||Is it Scored|
|Logical Reasoning||35 mins||24-26||Yes|
|Logical Reasoning (pt.2)||35 mins||24-26||Yes|
|Reading Comprehension||35 mins||26-28||Yes|
|Analytical Reading||35 mins||23-24||Yes|
|Writing Sample||35 mins||1||No|
Why should you give the PSAT?
Though it is not the most important factor in your admission process, it can definitely give you an edge over the other applicants. A good test score means a good first impression, especially when it comes to top schools. Most high schools require their students to take the PSAT in the fall of junior year
SAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Its results are used to assign each student a Selection Index score.
When should you take it?
The PSAT is offered nationally every year in October. Ask your school counselor about when your class is scheduled to take the PSAT.
Give the exam only when you are sure of passing with great scores. And if you are not too happy with the results you can always re-appear for the exam. PSAT results are typically available in early December, approximately six weeks after a student takes the PSAT
What score should you aim for?
Each section is scored on a scale of 160–760, making a “perfect” score 1520.
So, keep your target school in mind and prepare accordingly.
And lastly, practice regularly, make a plan and stick to it!