Overview of the PSAT

The PSAT is a preliminary version of the SAT - it mirrors the SAT in subject matter, but is shorter and has no bearing on a student’s university admission, although it may be an indicator of how strong an SAT score you can expect. Not only is the PSAT used as a preparation tool to help prepare students to take the SAT or ACT, in the US a great score on the PSAT can also open the door to National Merit Scholarships and other awards.

The new PSAT will be fully aligned with the new SAT debuting in March 2016 and will be 2 hours and 45 minutes long, testing skills in Reading, Writing and Math. Similar to the SAT, the PSAT will have a maximum composite score of 1600 (800 max. for Math and 800 max. for Critical Reading and Writing combined. Unlike the old PSAT, the redesigned PSAT gives no penalties for wrong answers and you now only have a choice of 4 answers in the multiple choice.

Outline of the PSAT:

Section Length Question Type
Evidence-Based Reading 60 Minutes 9 U.S./World Literature
18-20 Social Studies/History
18 - 20 Science
Writing and Language 35 Minutes 24 Expression of Ideas
20 Standard English Conventions
Math 25 Minutes no calculator/45 minutes with calculator 16 Heart of Algebra
13 Data Analysis & Problem Solving
16 Passport to Advanced Math
2 Additional Topics in Math