PSAT and its Importance


Preliminary SAT (PSAT) aka National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test (NMSQT) is a standardized test which is administered by the college board. Unlike SAT and ACT, this test is offered only once in a year. The expected date for 2019 PSAT is October 16 with two alternate test dates – October 19, 2019 and October 30, 2019.

More than 3.5 million students appear for PSAT each year. And this number is growing rapidly year after year. These scores are used to check the qualification for the National merit scholarship program.

Duration of the test is about 2 hours 10 minutes. This test has two sections with sub sections–

  1. Evidence Based Reading and Writing
  • Reading Section - 47 Question | 60 minutes- Reading and Vocabulary
  • Writing Section – 44 Questions | 35 minutes- Grammar, usage is tested

      2. Math – Includes problem Solving, data analysis, Heart of Algebra, Advanced Maths, Trigonometry, geometry.

  • 45-minute Optional Calculator Section
  • 25- minute No Calculator Section

Why take PSAT

  • To understand your strengths and weaknesses on skills required for college
  • To compare your performance with that of others applying to the same colleges
  • To be eligible for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC)
  • To become familiar with the type of questions and skills that are tested on the SAT
  • Works as an amazing tool to connect with colleges and vice versa
  • At the end of PSAT, it asks your interests area, you can click on “yes” to the Student Search Survey. Soon, universities/colleges looking for same profile would connect with you.

How to prepare for the PSAT

  • Get yourself familiar with the format of the exam. You should know the duration, breaks, type of questions and other skills that are tested.
  • Create a fixed study plan for PSAT and freeze days and dates for the same. In high school, you are already occupied with so many classes, assignments and other activities at school. If you don’t fix up a week day or two for your PSAT, it would be difficult to match up with others. Make sure you finish your weekly study goals for PSAT.
  • And, finally the most effective way to check your performance is by giving practice tests. They will guide you about areas, where you need to focus more. Appear for timed tests, and create an error log. This will keep you more focused and attentive towards your preparation.


PSAT scores are released within three months of the test date, in the second week of January. Your score card includes overall scores which ranges from 320-1520.

To summarize, we can say PSAT gives an indication of how a student would perform on SAT/ACT with this level of preparation. This gives an idea to parents and students, about the level of preparation that is required further. With all said and done, students must remember that the PSAT is much shorter than the SAT. Also, questions given on the PSAT are easier than the ACT/SAT. PSAT kind of gives a glimpse of real test taking conditions. Of course, great scores on PSAT would fetch you a national merit scholarship.

For more information about PSAT, you may visit your school counsellor or visit


For more info, you may write at