PSAT Critical Reading: Overview & Sample Questions

PSAT Reading – An Overview of the PSAT Reading Section

The PSAT includes one 60-minute Reading section. In total, there are 47 questions in the section. All questions are multiple choice and based on passages. In some cases, passages will be paired with others, and informational graphics such as graphs, tables, and charts may accompany some passages. No math is ever required. The focus is on reading and interpreting the passages, and using the information gathered to answer questions. Below, a table that highlights topics always included on the reading test:

PSAT Reading Passage Content Breakdown

Subject Passage Content
US & World Literature 1 passage; focus on contemporary work of US or World Literature
History/Social Studies 2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair; focus on a U.S. Founding document or work inspired by those documents.
Social Science 1 Selection; focus on economics, psychology, sociology or another social science.
Science 2 passages, or 1 passage and 1 pair; focus on concepts in Earth Science, biology, chemistry, or physics.

To access sample Reading Passages and related questions, visit the College Board website.

Related Topics

  • For general information about the PSAT Test, visit our PSAT Test page.
  • For information about the PSAT Math sections, visit our PSAT Math page.
  • For information about the PSAT Writing and Language section, visit our PSAT Writing and Language page.
  • For information about upcoming PSAT test dates, visit our PSAT Test Dates page.
  • Wondering how PSAT scores are calculated? Visit our PSAT Scores page to find out.
  • Visit our National Merit Scholarship Qualifications page to find out if your child’s scores qualify him or her for a National Merit Scholarship.

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