Understanding PSAT and its benefits!

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the United States.

The scores from the PSAT/NMSQT are used to determine eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Students register for the exam through high schools which are members of the College Board.


Like other assessments in the SAT Suite of Assessments, the new PSAT/NMSQT include a Reading Test, a Writing and Language Test, and a Math Test.

The PSAT changed its format and content in fall 2015, to reflect the new SAT. The Reading and Writing Sections are combined into one section score, and the Math portion now includes a section in which usage of calculators is prohibited. The scores for each section range from 160 to 760, adding up to a maximum score of 1520. Yet the National Merit Scholarship Corporation takes each section score, scored on a scale of 8 to 38, sums it and then doubles that sum to devise the Selection Index, ranging from 48 to 228.

The test is mostly multiple-choice, but there are four grid-in math questions at the end of each math section that require takers to enter their responses on a grid.

  1. Reading Test
  • All Reading Test questions are multiple choice and based on passages.
  • When you take the Reading Test, you’ll read passages and interpret informational graphics. Then you’ll use what you’ve read to answer questions.
  • The Reading Test includes passages in the fields of history, social studies, and science. You’ll be asked questions that require you to draw on the reading skills needed most to succeed in those subjects.
  • Some questions ask you to locate a piece of information or an idea stated directly. But you’ll also need to understand what the author’s words imply. In other words, you have to read between the lines.
  1. Writing and Language Test
  • All questions are multiple choice and based on passages.

Writing and Language Test Measures:

  • Command of Evidence
  • Words in Context
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies and in Science
  • Expression of Ideas
  • Standard English Conventions
  1. Math Test
  • Most math questions will be multiple choice, but some—called grid-ins—ask you to come up with the answer rather than select the answer.
  • The Math Test is divided into two portions: Math Test–Calculator and Math Test–No Calculator.
  • The Math Test will focus in depth on the three areas of math that play the biggest role in a wide range of college majors and careers: Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Advanced Math.

The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 are highly relevant to your future success because they focus on the skills and knowledge at the heart of education. They’ll measure:

  • What you learn in high school
  • What you need to succeed in college

This test challenges your mainstream thinking that the key to a high score is memorizing words and facts you’ll never use in the real world.

The best way to prepare for the test is to:

  • Take challenging courses
  • Do your homework
  • Prepare for tests and quizzes
  • Ask and answer lots of questions

In short, take charge of your education and learn as much as you can. The reason that this test can be given during your high school is that it becomes easy for you to retain what you have learnt in your school. You don’t have to study or practice anything extra or out of the world. If you concentrate well on your school education, take part in quizzes and other mind enhancing activities, you are definitely going to succeed in scoring well in this exam.

Hope now you know a little about PSAT and its usefulness. Feel free to contact USA UnivQuest for further guidance. We offer preparation for TOEFL, SAT, SAT Subjects and AP tests as well. Keep checking our blogs to stay updated with relevant topics regarding studying abroad!

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