What is the PSAT ?

The PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, is a standardized test administered by the College Board in the United States. It serves several important purposes for high school students. Firstly, it's a practice test for the SAT, which is a widely used college admissions test. Taking the PSAT gives students a chance to become familiar with the format and types of questions they'll encounter on the SAT, helping them feel more confident when they take the official SAT.

Additionally, the PSAT is used as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which is a prestigious academic competition that awards scholarships to high-performing students. Each year, about 1.6 million high school juniors take the PSAT, and the top performers (usually the top 1%) in each state become National Merit Semifinalists, a recognition of their exceptional academic achievement.

The PSAT assesses students' skills in critical reading, math, and writing. It consists of two sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (which includes Reading and Writing & Language) and Math. The test is scored on a scale of 320 to 1520, with separate scores for each section. Additionally, there are sub scores and cross-test scores that provide more detailed information about a student's performance.

It's important to note that while the PSAT is a significant test, it does not have a direct impact on college admissions decisions. However, it can be an important tool for students to gauge their academic strengths and weaknesses, and to identify areas they might want to focus on improving before taking the SAT.

Format of PSAT

The PSAT is administered in paper-and-pencil format, but some accommodations may be available for students with disabilities. The Preliminary SAT consists of four main sections:

1) Reading: This section evaluates your ability to read and understand passages from a variety of topics, including literature, history, social studies, and science. It contains multiple-choice questions based on the provided passages.

2) Writing & Language: This section assesses your editing and revision skills. It presents sentences and paragraphs with underlined portions, and you'll have to choose the best option to replace or improve the underlined portion.

3) Math: This section tests your mathematical skills in algebra, problem-solving, data analysis, and advanced math topics. It includes both multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions, where you have to provide the numerical answer.

4) Optional Essay (not scored): While the essay is optional, some schools or scholarship programs may require it. It involves analyzing a passage and crafting an essay response that evaluates the author's argument.

PSAT Score Range

The PSAT score range is from 320 to 1520, with separate scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (160-760) and Math (160-760), and an optional essay score ranging from 6 to 24.
  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW): 160 to 760
  • Math: 160 to 760
These scores are then added together to give a total score. For example, if a student scores 600 in EBRW and 620 in Math, their total PSAT score would be 1220 (600 + 620 = 1220). Keep in mind that these scores are intended to provide students with a sense of their academic strengths and areas for improvement, and they are not used by colleges for admissions decisions.

Who is Eligible for PSAT ?

The PSAT is primarily designed for high school students in the United States. Specifically, it is typically administered to students in their sophomore (10th grade) and junior (11th grade) years of high school. 

Here are the typical requirements:

1) Location: The PSAT is primarily administered in the United States, including U.S. territories, and to U.S. citizens studying abroad. Some international schools may also offer the PSAT.

2) Sophomores (10th Grade): Sophomores are eligible to take the PSAT, and some may choose to do so for practice and to familiarize themselves with the test format. While it's not mandatory for sophomores, it can be a beneficial experience.

3) Juniors (11th Grade): Juniors are strongly encouraged to take the PSAT. This is because the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) taken in the junior year is the test used to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

4) Home-Schooled Students: Home-schooled students are eligible to take the PSAT. They can typically arrange to take the test at a local high school that administers the PSAT.

5) U.S. Territories and U.S. Citizens Abroad: The PSAT is available to students in U.S. territories (like Puerto Rico) and U.S. citizens attending school abroad.

6) International Students: In some cases, international students in certain U.S.-affiliated schools or schools with special arrangements may be able to take the PSAT.

7) Special Accommodations: Students with disabilities may be eligible for accommodations, such as extended time or a quiet testing environment. These accommodations need to be requested in advance through the school's designated accommodations process.


The fees for the Preliminary SAT is as follows:
  • Standard Fee: The standard fee for the PSAT is $18, but it can vary depending on the specific school or testing center.
  • Fee Waivers: Fee waivers are available for eligible students who may have difficulty paying the standard fee. These waivers cover the cost of the test and, in some cases, additional services.
However, many schools cover the cost for their students. It's recommended to check with the official College Board website or contact your school's guidance counselor for the most up-to-date information on PSAT fees.

How Long is the PSAT ?

The PSAT takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. This time includes the testing itself as well as breaks and instructions provided by the test administrators. The test is divided into several sections, including Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math, with an optional essay section that adds additional time if chosen by the test taker. If you choose to take the optional essay, that will add an additional 50 minutes to the test duration.

PSAT Dates

The PSAT is typically administered once a year in October. However, specific dates can vary from year to year. To get the most accurate and up-to-date information on PSAT test dates, it's recommended to check the official College Board website or consult with your school's guidance counselor.

How to Register for PSAT ?

To register for the PSAT, high school students should inquire with their school's guidance counselor or testing coordinator. Here's a general guide on how to do it:

1) Check with Your School:
Start by checking with your school's guidance counselor, testing coordinator, or administration to see if they are offering the PSAT and if they will handle the registration process.

2) Get a Registration Packet (if applicable):
If your school is administering the PSAT, they will likely provide registration materials, which may include forms and instructions.

3) Complete the Registration Form:
Fill out the registration form with your personal information. This may include your name, grade level, contact information, and any requested accommodations for students with disabilities.

4) Pay any Applicable Fees (if required):
Some schools may charge a fee for taking the PSAT. If applicable, submit the payment according to the instructions provided by your school.

5) Submit the Registration Form:
Return the completed registration form, along with any required payment, to the designated person or office at your school. This may be the guidance counselor, testing coordinator, or another designated staff member.

6) Confirm Your Registration:
Make sure to receive confirmation from your school that you are registered for the PSAT and that all necessary steps have been completed.

7) Prepare for the Test:
Use study materials and resources to prepare for the PSAT. The College Board, which administers the test, provides official practice materials that can be helpful.

8) Show Up on Test Day:
Arrive at the testing location on the designated test date with any required materials (e.g., ID, pencils, calculator).

It's important to note that if you're homeschooled or attending a school that doesn't offer the PSAT, you might be able to take it at a nearby public or private high school. Contact the school's testing coordinator or administration to inquire about this possibility.

How to Get PSAT Result ?

To get your Preliminary SAT results, follow these steps:
  • Log into your College Board account or create one if you don't have it.
  • Find the section labeled "My SAT" or similar on the College Board website.
  • Locate the specific PSAT score report, often labeled as "PSAT/NMSQT."
  • View and analyze your scores, including total score, section scores, subscores, percentiles, and other relevant metrics.
  • Review any question-level feedback provided (if available).
  • Print or save your score report if you need a physical or digital copy for your records.
Keep in mind that PSAT scores are typically released about two months after the test date. If you're having trouble accessing your scores or have specific questions about your results, you can contact the College Board directly for assistance.

PSAT Preparation Tips

  1. Familiarize yourself with the test format and question types by reviewing official practice materials provided by the College Board.
  2. Develop a study schedule that allocates time for each section (Reading, Writing & Language, Math) and includes regular practice.
  3. Identify your weak areas and focus on improving them through targeted practice and review.
  4. Utilize additional study resources such as prep books, online courses, and practice tests to reinforce your knowledge.
  5. Practice time management during simulated test conditions to ensure you can complete each section within the allotted time.
  6. Review and understand the explanations for incorrect answers to learn from your mistakes and improve your performance.
  7. Consider seeking guidance from teachers, tutors, or online forums for clarification on challenging concepts or questions.
  8. Prioritize rest and self-care to maintain focus and reduce test-related stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do PSAT scores come out?
PSAT scores are typically released online approximately two months after the test date, with specific dates varying from year to year.

What is a good PSAT score?
A good PSAT practice test score is typically considered to be in the range of 1200 to 1400 out of a maximum score of 1520, but what's considered "good" can vary depending on individual goals, the region, and the specific college or scholarship program's requirements.

Who should take the PSAT?
The PSAT is typically taken by high school juniors, but sophomores can also take it if they want to practice early. It's an important test for students planning to attend college.

When is the PSAT offered?
The PSAT practice test is usually offered once a year in October. Specific dates may vary, so it's important to check the College Board's official website for the most up-to-date information.

How can I prepare for the PSAT?
There are various resources available for PSAT preparation, including official practice tests, study guides, and online resources. Some students also opt for preparatory courses or tutoring.

Is the PSAT required for college admissions?
No, the PSAT itself is not required for college admissions. However, it can be an important tool for students to practice for the SAT and to potentially qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

When will I receive my PSAT scores?
PSAT scores are typically released about two months after the test date. Students can access their scores online through their College Board accounts.

How is the PSAT scored?
The PSAT practice test is scored on a scale of 320 to 1520, with separate scores for the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section (ranging from 160 to 760) and the Math section (ranging from 160 to 760).