The PSAT Test

What Is PSAT and Why Should You Take It

The PSAT test is a standardized test that is used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT test is also known as the PSAT/NMSQT test. Many students appear for the PSAT test in the hope to secure scholarships to fund their college education.

  • The PSAT as a Preliminary Test

    The PSAT acts as a preliminary test if you plan to appear for the SAT test after high school. Preparing for the PSAT test allows you to be focused towards the SAT test because the PSAT test emulates the SAT test. Although the duration of the PSAT test and the pattern of questions are not exactly similar to the SAT test, it is somewhat designed along the lines of the SAT test. Preparing for the test allows you to experience the intensity of preparation required for the test. Likewise, appearing for the PSAT test allows you to experience the SAT test because it probably will be the first standardized test you will attempt.

    The table below is an indicative list of sections that appear in the PSAT test:

  • Section

    Time (in minutes)

    Question Type

    Total Number of Questions

    Critical Reading-2 sections


    Sentence completion- 13


    Passage-based reading- 35

    Math-2 sections


    Multiple choice- 28


    Grid-in responses- 10



    Improving sentences- 20


    Identifying sentence errors- 14

    Improving paragraphs-5

    The scoring method of the PSAT test is also somewhat similar to the scoring used in the SAT test. Research has shown that students who score reasonably high in the PSAT test score high marks in the SAT test. For example, you can expect your scores to increase by 145 points (on an average) when you appear for the SAT test. Thus, the PSAT test is also an indicator of your likely performance in the SAT test.

    When you prepare for the PSAT test, you are, in fact, preparing for the SAT test too. Preparing for the PSAT test reduces your preparation time for the SAT test. For example, if you have covered all the portions of Math to appear for the PSAT test, you will not need to read all those topics again when you prepare for the SAT test. Moreover, the score report you receive after appearing for the PSAT, or even during your preparation, enables you to focus on your weaker subjects so that you are adequately prepared to appear for the SAT test.

  • Scholarships through PSAT

    Financial aid is a crucial aspect for college education. Scholarships are the best form of monetary aid for your college education. If you achieve scholarships, you will not need to take loans from banks and worry about having to pay them off. The PSAT test is the best, and the only, way to secure scholarships.

    There are a variety of scholarships on offer, most of which belong to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Depending on your eligibility, you can receive scholarships that are corporate-sponsored merit based, corporate-sponsored special scholarships, and college-sponsored. However, the process to finalize the recipients of the scholarships is lengthy, which means that you need to appear for the PSAT in time to be able to receive the scholarship in time. It is wise not to appear for the PSAT test too early because you will not be eligible to receive the aid, especially if you still have four years of high school education remaining.

  • Importance of PSAT

    Even if you do not achieve scholarships, making it to the commendation list always helps. Having your name on the commendation list helps you to secure loans from banks. It also helps to highlight this in your college application. Receiving a Letter of commendation also allows you to be considered by corporate sponsors for their scholarships.

    Preparing for the PSAT test allows you to focus on your future; thus, you can plan your career goals and identify courses and colleges that interest you and work towards them accordingly. Because you can gauge your likely scores in the SAT test, you can search for colleges wherein you are likely to be accepted. Thus, you remain focused towards a bigger goal, which requires long-term preparation and the PSAT test is the perfect opportunity to do that.

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