With so many exams to study for, there is one that tends to be underestimated. And that is the PSAT. It is actually more important than you might think. So listen up!
How the PSAT is Structured
The test is divided into three different components:
Critical Reading: 2 sections, 48 questions, 25 minutes each
Math: 2 sections, 28 questions, 25 minutes each
Writing Skills: 1 section, 39 questions, 30 minutes
Good News: NO ESSAY!
How the PSAT is Scored
The test scores range from 20-80 for each of the 3 components. Therefore the total scores range from 60-240.
The PSAT is also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). PSAT scores and grades are used to identify students who will receive the National Merit Scholarship. Scores of the National Merit qualifiers differ for each state, so will be up to you to research this.
When to Take the PSAT
The PSAT is given once a year in October. Although it is intended to be taken during your Junior year, it is highly encouraged that you get a head start and take it during your sophomore year as well.
What is the Difference between the PSAT & SAT?
The PSAT scores are presented on a different scale. Instead of each test being reported on a 200-800 scale, PSAT scores are on a 20-80 scale.
The SAT is much longer than the PSAT since it has an essay section. Without breaks, the SAT takes 3 hours and 45 minutes while the PSAT takes 2 hours and 10 minutes.
The questions on the PSAT are similar to the SAT except for the essay and also the PSAT has put less of an emphasis on Algebra II. The reason is because it is assumed that in for the age group of those taking the PSAT, many students may not have taken Algebra II just yet.
There you have it. Not only can you have an opportunity to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, but the PSAT is a wonderful way to begin preparation and build your confidence for the SAT. It is never too late to start!