About the PSAT

The PSAT, which stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, serves two main purposes: a dress rehearsal for the SAT as well as the qualifier for National Merit Scholarships. The PSAT is taken by mostly sophomores and juniors in high school before taking the SAT or ACT for college admissions.

What’s on the PSAT?

The PSAT only consists of two core sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. There are 139 total questions on the test, 48 Math questions, 47 Reading questions, and 44 Writing questions. The duration of the test without breaks is 2 hours and 45 minutes, which comes in about 15 minutes shorter than the SAT without breaks or the optional writing section.

What are the PSAT Sections?

The PSAT sections are Math, Reading, and Writing and are broken out into the following lengths and numbers: Math: 70 minutes / 48 questions, Reading: 60 minutes / 47 questions, Writing: 35 minutes / 44 questions

About the Math Section: The Math section of the PSAT is divided into a 45-minute Calculator and 35-minute No Calculator section. The skills that are tested include Algebra I and II, geometry, and trigonometry. 

About the Reading Section: The Reading section of the PSAT is questions based on passages or pairs of passages that fall into the following categories: literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences. The questions are testing skills in reading comprehension, command of evidence, analytical skills, and vocabulary in context.

About the Writing Section: The Writing section of the PSAT is comprised of 44 multiple-choice questions based on non-fiction and passages and arguments in the following topics: careers, history, science, the humanities, and social studies.

How’s the PSAT Scored?

The PSAT does not penalize for incorrect answers, much like the new SAT. The points for the PSAT are calculated as follows:

  • 1 point for each correct answer
  • No loss or gain for incorrect answer
  • No loss or gain for skipped questions

Raw score is calculated by summing the number of correct answers (1 point each) and then scaled with a minimum scaled score of 320 and a maximum scaled score of 1520.

When is the PSAT?

The PSAT is only offered in October / November every year. Each high school administers the test, which is why the dates can vary by school.

For Upcoming PSAT Dates, Click Here.

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