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. 

PSAT Quick Facts

Frequency 1 time/year
Duration 2 hours, 45 minutes
Sections Math, Evidence-Based Reading & Writing
Cost Fees are paid by schools
Max. Score 1520

What is the PSAT and why is it important?

The PSAT won’t count towards your college admissions applications, but it is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship. Some of the highest scoring students may win scholarship money, so while you shouldn’t stress out about the PSAT, you certainly shouldn’t ignore it either. Use the PSAT as practice for the SAT and ACT and an important guidepost on your college admissions journey.

When is the PSAT?

The PSAT is offered nationally every year in October. Ask your school counselor about when your class is scheduled to take the PSAT. View upcoming PSAT test dates.

What does the PSAT test?

The PSAT has two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.  You’ll encounter passage-based questions—sometimes accompanied by tables, graphs, and charts—and math problems drawing upon algebra, geometry, and a little trig.

Learn about the 2015 changes to the PSAT.

How is the PSAT scored?

Each section is scored on a scale of 160–760, making a “perfect” score 1520. There are also test scores, cross-test scores, and subscores. Find out more about PSAT scoring.

Did I get a good PSAT score?

Good question. The highest scores and percentiles earn National Merit Recognition. But PSAT scores are also useful in determining your best prep strategies for the SAT or ACT. For a PSAT score report consultation, call us at 800-2REVIEW.

How do I register for the PSAT?

Check with a counselor at your school or at a school in your community to sign up.

How should I prepare for the PSAT?

The PSAT and SAT tests are almost identical: the PSAT is 15 minutes shorter, does not include an essay, and has a slightly different scoring scale. By prepping for the SAT, you are prepping for both tests! For a limited time, get our PSAT prep (a $299 value) for free when you enroll in a comprehensive SAT course or tutoring program. Learn more today.