What is PSAT?

What is PSAT and Why is it Important for You?

Here is an answer to the question ‘What is PSAT?’

PSAT is expanded as the Preliminary SAT. This test aims at preparing for the SAT test. The PSAT test pattern is based on the SAT test.

It measures:

  • Critical reading skills
  • Math problem-solving skills
  • Writing skills

The PSAT exam entails five test sections.

  • Critical Reading test section comprises two 25 minutes sections
  • Math test section comprises two 25 minutes sections
  • Writing test section comprises one 30 minutes section

The answer to the question ‘What is PSAT?’ is not complete unless you come to know about its test sections in detail.

  • Critical Reading Section

    This section includes 48 questions that are classified into two types.

    • Sentence Completion

      An incomplete sentence is given. It is to be completed with the most appropriate option. You will be presented with 13 questions based on this format.

    • Passage-Based Reading

      A passage is given. You have to read the passage and answer questions that follow the passage. There are 35 questions based on this format.

  • Math Section

    The Math section consists of 38 questions that are grouped into two types.

    • Multiple-Choice

      A question is given. It is followed by five options. You have to select the correct option. There are 28 multiple-choice questions.

    • Student-Produced Response

      These questions are not provided with multiple-choice options. You have to solve the problems to get the answers to the problems. You are then required to fill the answers in grids available on answer sheet. There are 10 questions based on Student-Produced Response type of questions.

    Simply knowing the answer to the question ‘What is PSAT?’ is not enough. You should also know about the important points to be considered while filling the answers of Student-Produced Response questions in grids.

    • Use a calculator to work with speed and to avoid careless mistakes.
    • Feed answers first in boxes available above the grids and then fill in the grids.
    • Convert mixed numbers to improper fractions before filling in the grids.
    • Convert repeating decimal answer to the most accurate value before filling in the answer.
    • There is no negative marking for these types of questions.

    Note: You should have the basic knowledge about the following four math topics in order to do well in this test section of the PSAT:

    • Number and Operations
    • Algebra and Functions
    • Geometry and Measurement
    • Data analysis, Probability and Statistics

  • Writing Section

    The Writing section comprises 39 questions that are classified into three types.

    • Identifying Sentence Errors

      A sentence is given that is partially underlined. You have to identify errors in the sentence by choosing one among the five options that follow the sentence. There are 14 questions based on this format.

    • Improving Sentences

      A sentence is partially or completely underlined. You have to choose one among the five options to find the most effective way of presenting the sentence.

    • Improving Paragraphs

      A paragraph is given wherein each sentence is numbered. The paragraph is followed by questions that include sentences of the paragraph that need to be improved based on the conventions of Standard English.

Why is PSAT Important for You?

Once you have the answer to ‘What is PSAT?’ you need to know the importance of PSAT. The importance of PSAT is described below:

  • PSAT introduces questions that are similar to the questions asked in the SAT exam.

  • It helps in assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and thus, guides you towards overcoming your weaknesses to get success in the SAT exam.

  • It helps you in judging your performance when compared to the other students.

  • This test aids in projecting your SAT scores. Since, PSAT exam is similar to the SAT exam in its test pattern and question types, once you get the PSAT scores you have an idea about your SAT scores.

  • PSAT gives you a chance to apply for NMSC (National Merit Scholarship Corporation). You can apply for NMSC in grade 11 i.e. in the junior year at high school.

  • It helps creating the list of colleges of your choice. Based on the scores of PSAT you can get an idea about your SAT scores and therefore, can search for colleges based on their admission requirements.


To get an answer to the question ‘What is PSAT?’ is easy, but to prepare for the PSAT is difficult unless you work smartly on it. PSAT exam ought to be taken by those students who really want to score high in the SAT exam. It acts as a guide that aids you in knowing the test pattern and the question types that are asked in the SAT exam.

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