The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test administered by the College Board and cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in the United States. The test is administered to freshmen (PSAT 8/9), sophomores, and juniors during October each year. The test is administered digitally using a program called Bluebook.
The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 take 2 hours and 14 minutes and consist of 2 sections: (1) the Reading and Writing Section and (2) the Math Section, each with 2 modules. Most of the questions are multiple-choice, though some math questions ask you to write in the answer rather than select it. Each section is scored on a scale of 160-760, and your total is the sum of both sections. Your overall PSAT score range is 320-1520. The average PSAT/NMSQT score is about 920. A score between 1210 and 1520 puts you in the top 10% of test takers.
The PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT are very similar tests, so your score on the PSAT/NMSQT can give you an idea of how you’ll do when you take the SAT. Your PSAT/NMSQT score report gives you valuable information about your strengths and weaknesses that you can use to prepare for the SAT and increase your score.
How much time for each section?
The following table shows how much time you get for each section and the number of questions for each test:
|Number of Questions/Tasks
|Reading and Writing
Reading and Writing Section
The Reading and Writing section of the digital PSAT/NMSQT is designed to measure your success with building critical college and career readiness in literacy. In this section, you'll answer multiple-choice questions requiring you to read, comprehend, and use information and ideas in texts; analyze the craft and structure of texts; revise texts to improve the rhetorical expression of ideas; and edit texts to follow core conventions of Standard English.
Passages in this section, which serve as the basis for answering test questions, represent the subject areas of literature, history/social studies, the humanities, and science. There is a single question per passage. Select questions in this section are accompanied by an informational graphic. The questions in the Reading and Writing section fall into four broad categories:
- Craft and Structure: Questions in this domain measure comprehension, vocabulary, analysis, synthesis, and reasoning skills and knowledge.
- Information and Ideas: Questions in this domain measure comprehension, analysis, and reasoning skills and knowledge, and the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, and integrate information
- Standard English Conventions: Questions in this domain measure the ability to edit text to conform to core conventions of Standard English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation.
- Expression of Ideas: Questions in this domain measure the ability to revise texts to improve the effectiveness of written expression and to meet specific rhetorical goals.
The Math section of the digital PSAT/NMSQT is designed to measure your success with building critical college and career readiness knowledge and skills in math. It focuses on key elements of algebra, advanced math, problem-solving and data analysis, and geometry and trigonometry. Over the course of the Math section, you'll answer multiple-choice and student-produced response questions that measure your fluency with, understanding of, and ability to apply the math concepts, skills, and practices that are most essential.
Approximately 30% of Math questions are set in context. These in-context "word" questions require you to consider a science, social studies, or real-world scenario and apply your math skills and knowledge, along with an understanding of the context, to determine the answer to each. Select questions in this section are accompanied by an informational graphic.Questions in the Math section fall into four content domains:
- Algebra: Questions in this domain measure the ability to analyze, fluently solve, and create linear equations and inequalities as well as analyze and fluently solve equations and systems of equations using multiple techniques.
- Advanced Math: Questions in this domain measure skills and knowledge central for progression to more advanced math courses, including demonstrating an understanding of absolute value, quadratic, exponential, polynomial, rational, radical, and other nonlinear equations.
- Problem-Solving and Data Analysis: Questions in this domain measure the ability to apply quantitative reasoning about ratios, rates, and proportional relationships; understand and apply unit rates; and analyze and interpret 1- and 2-variable data.
- Geometry and Trigonometry: Questions in this domain measure the ability to solve problems focusing on area and volume; angles, triangles, trigonometry; and circles.
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