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What is the PSAT and should I take it?

Updated: May 19, 2021

Whether curious about the requirements of a standardized test or attempting to qualify for a scholarship, the PSAT offers high schoolers the ability to get a better understanding of what might be after high school. As such, the PSAT, or the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test, gives insight into the struggles you or your child will face and how to better counteract them when it is time to take the SAT. As such, the PSAT is a strategic tool for the curious and college-bound.


Sections of the PSAT

The PSAT consists of two sections: the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion and the Math portion. The PSAT greatly resembles the SAT, but is shorter, scores differently, and does not have an essay section. Each section is made up of two sub-sections. The first section is the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion involving a Reading Test and the Writing and Language test. The second section is the Math test, which has a Calculator and No Calculator section. Lasting only 2 hours and 45 minutes, the PSAT is an effective study tool to practice testing strategies before taking the more comprehensive version.


Reading Test

The Reading portion of the PSAT is a 60-minute, 47-question multiple choice test. This section measures different reading abilities by having students read and answer questions from a broad range of topics. The PSAT specifically focuses on how well a student can read and interpret the information being read.


Writing and Language Test

The Writing and Language test focuses on practical editing skills. It is a 35-minute, 44-question grammar usage section where you read and edit a passage by finding sentence and grammar errors.


The Math Test

The Math test of the PSAT is broken into two sub-sections. The first is a 45-minute section that allows a calculator, while the second is a 25-minute no calculator section. Both sections test your current math skills up to the 10th grade. This isn't like usual math tests asking simply to "solve for x." Instead, these questions attempt to trick students, so it is important to interpret the questions correctly.


Scoring of the PSAT

The PSAT’s two sections are scored between 160-760. Added together, PSAT scores will range between 320-1520. Upon receiving scores you will also see what you or your child’s percentile rank is among test takers for the year.


Benefits: Practice and Merit-Based Scholarships

The best reason to take the PSAT is simply for practice. Taking it early on in your freshman year of high school will help you or your child to be well-prepared for long standardized tests. The added bonus is that if qualified high school juniors score well on the PSAT/NMSQT, they are eligible to receive the National Merit scholarship for $2500! With that in mind, PSAT results give a general idea of how well you'll do on the SAT and how to prepare for the next step in academia.


What’s Next?

Contact your high school guidance counselor in order to register for the PSAT. The PSAT is primarily given in October, so contact your counselor during the beginning of the school year. After speaking with your counselor, get in touch with Just Knowledge Tutoring . We know how to increase any applicant's chance to receive a merit-based scholarship as well prepare for the SAT and ACT.


At Just Knowledge Tutoring, we offer individual tutoring lessons for students looking to prepare for the PSAT. We also offer individual and class tutoring for the SAT and ACT. Our team will help you prepare for all college standardized testing while easing stress that comes along with it. Contact us today to inquire about our services!

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