what you need to know about the PSAT

Posted : October 3, 2005
Last Updated : August 21, 2013

what you need to know about the PSAT

PSAT/NMSQT stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is the best indicator of how well you will perform on the SAT.

Why do I need to take the PSAT/NMSQT?
Reasons to take the PSAT/NMSQT include:

Who should take the test?
Sophomores and juniors should take the PSAT/NMSQT. If you are a sophomore, you should take the test to receive personalized feedback on academic skills relating to college success. Taking the test during your sophomore year will give you more time to work on problem areas (if need be) before you start applying to colleges. If you are a junior, you should take the test to enter into competitions for the scholarship programs conducted by NMSC. At the very least, think of it as a way to prepare for the SAT in a real test environment. To get an idea of what to expect, visit Kaplan.com where you can take free practice tests, take a Kaplan PSAT course, or sign up for their College Prep Access program, which allows unlimited PSAT, ACT, and SAT preparation through December of your senior year.

What is on the PSAT/NMSQT?
The test consists of five sections: two 25-minute critical reading sections, two 25-minute math sections, and one 30-minute writing skills section. The critical reading sections measure your knowledge of the meanings of words and sentence structure and measure your ability to read and think carefully about reading passages. The math sections measure your knowledge of numbers and operations; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability. The writing skills section measures your capability to communicate ideas clearly, to recognize errors in usage and structure, and to use language with sensitivity to meaning.

Will colleges use my PSAT scores in determining whether or not I am admitted?
Colleges rarely see your PSAT/NMSQT scores, and the scores are not used to influence decisions on college admission. Try not to worry about the PSAT/NMSQT, but instead, use it as a tool to help gauge what you need to improve upon for the SAT.

When should I take the test?
The PSAT/NMSQT is administered by high schools each October. You must sign up for the test at your high school or a high school in your community. Contact your high school counselor for information on registering for the PSAT/NMSQT and learning the correct date, time, and location that your school will give the test.

Is a fee required to take the test?
There is a fee for the PSAT/NMSQT. Fee waivers are available to juniors from low-income families who can't afford the test fee. Contact your high school counselor for more information on the test fee amount and fee waivers.

If you plan to take the PSAT/NMSQT, be sure to pick up the Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT from your counseling office. For more information on the PSAT/NMSQT, please visit collegeboard.com.


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what you need to know about the PSAT

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