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
As of the fall of 2015, all students will be tested using the new, redesigned PSAT. The new test format continues to test reasoning skills, but places a clearer, stronger focus on the knowledge, skills, and understandings most important for success after high school. The new format places greater emphasis on a student’s ability to determine the meaning of words in extended contexts and how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact. The test measures a student’s skills in two core areas: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math and is composed of three sections—Reading, Writing, and Math. Total testing time is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The breakdown of each section is as follows:
|Section||Sub-Section||Total Testing Time & Breakdown||Number of Questions||Content/Skills Covered|
|Evidence-Based Reading & Writing||Reading||60 minutes||47||reading and vocabulary in context|
|Writing||35 mintues||44||grammar and usage|
1 45-minute calculator-optional section and
1 25-minute no-calculator section
|47||heart of algebra, problem solving & data analysis, passport to advanced math, additional topics (geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus)|
- For more information about the PSAT Reading sections, visit our PSAT Reading page.
- For more information about the PSAT Math sections, visit our PSAT Math page.
- For more information about the PSAT Writing and Language section, visit our PSAT Writing and Language 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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