The PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test that most high schools in the United States administer to their 11th grade students. Some high schools also offer the PSAT/NMSQT to their 9th and/or 10th grade students. Considered to be a “preliminary SAT,” the PSAT test gives students a sense of the format, question types, content, and time limits that they will encounter on the SAT. Additionally, the PSAT test serves as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
PSAT Test Format, Structure, and Question Types
The PSAT test measures a student’s skills in three core areas: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The PSAT test is composed of five sections—two Critical Reading sections, two Math sections, and one Writing section. Total testing time is 2 hours and 10 minutes. The breakdown of each section is as follows:
|Section||Total Testing Time & Breakdown||Number of Questions & Types||Content/Skills Covered|
|Critical Reading||50 minutes (two 25-minute sections)||13 Sentence Completion Questions||vocabulary and ability to comprehend the logic of complex sentences|
|35 Reading Passage Questions||reading and interpreting what is implied by or stated in a passage|
|Math||50 minutes (two 25-minute sections)||28 Multiple-Choice Questions||number and operation; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability|
|10 Student-Produced Response (Grid-In) Questions||number and operation; algebra and functions; geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability|
|Writing||30 minutes (one 30-minute section)||20 Improving Sentences Questions||grammar and usage|
|14 Identifying Sentence Errors Questions||grammar and usage|
|5 Improving Paragraphs Questions||writing and revising|
- For more information about the PSAT Critical Reading sections, visit our PSAT Critical Reading page.
- For more information about the PSAT Math sections, visit our PSAT Math page.
- For more information about the PSAT Writing section, visit our PSAT Writing page.
- To learn how the PSAT is scored, visit our PSAT Scores page.
- Looking for PSAT test dates? Visit our PSAT Test Dates page.
- Wondering how a student qualifies for the National Merit Scholarship? Visit our National Merit Scholarship Qualifications page.
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