FAQs About the PSAT

Frequently Asked Questions About the PSAT

What is the PSAT?

The PSAT is a pre-SAT.  The PSAT is given only in October. Students usually take the PSAT in their junior year, but many now take the PSAT in their sophomore year also. The benefit of the PSAT in addition to National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) for juniors is the opportunity to take a test very similar to the SAT that will not show up on the SAT score report. The PSAT is like a scrimmage; it doesn’t count, but you get test practice and score feedback that should help to plan for the SAT PSAT scores do not show up on the SAT score report that the student sends with his admissions application to colleges.  So take it if you can, you have nothing to lose and much insight to gain.

How does the PSAT differ from the SAT?

The current PSAT has the same 3 sections as the SAT:  Math, Critical Reading, and Writing.  There is no essay on the PSAT, just a grammar multiple choice section called "Writing".  All sections of the PSAT are comparable to the SAT;  but each section is slightly shorter (less time for fewer problems) than those on the SAT.

What is the National Merit Scholarship?

A scholarship that is available to high school juniors based on their PSAT scores and their academic performance.

Do I have to take the PSAT to get into college?

No, the PSAT is not a prerequisite for any college.  PSAT scores may be used by some scholarship qualifying criteria.

How does my PSAT score help to predict my SAT score?

The PSAT scores go from 20-80 for each section.  To compare, add a zero to the end of each score, to make the range from 200 to 800, as the SATs are scored.  For example:

 MathCritical ReadingWriting
PSAT Score344427
Equivalent SAT Score340440270

But remember, your score could go up or down.  On the PSAT, scores are usually accurate to within 30 points above or below the next SAT score.  This means that a student is likely to get a score anywhere from 30 points more to 30 points less than his or her previous PSAT score.  With a reported average of an 80 points increase per section, the get IT SAT program will enable you to break this trend.

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