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PSAT FAQs

Questions about the Test

Registration Questions

Score Questions

Test Day Questions


Questions about the Test

What is the PSAT?

The PSAT is a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and to gain access to college and career planning tools.

The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are to:

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What is the format of the test?

The test is divided into four sections, in the following order: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (with calculator). Unlike the SAT, there is no optional Essay.

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How long is the test?

The timing and number of questions for the sections in the standard PSAT are shown in the table below.

Section(s) Questions Standard
Reading 47 questions 60 minutes
Writing and Language 44 questions 35 minutes
Math – No Calculator 17 questions 25 minutes
Math – Calculator 31 questions 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours, 45 minutes

The amount of approved extended time varies from student to student. Extended time options include time and a half (a little over 4 hours), double time (5 hours, 30 minutes), and, in rare circumstances, more time (e.g. 150 percent additional time, or almost 7 hours).

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Registration Questions

When is the PSAT given?

High schools administer the PSAT/NMSQT on a Wednesday or Saturday in October. An alternate date to administer the test is usually at the beginning of November.

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How do I register for the PSAT?

You must sign up for the test at your high school. The test is administered by high schools, not through testing centers. Online registration for the PSAT is not available. If you want to take the PSAT, contact your high school counselor to learn about registering for the test, paying test fees, and learning the correct date, time, and location at which your school will give the test. If you are homeschooled, find and contact a local high school. A school search and more information for homeschoolers can be found here.

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How much does it cost to register for the PSAT?

The PSAT/NMSQT costs schools $16 for each student. Some schools charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs, and other schools cover all or part of the cost for their students. The College Board makes fee waivers available to schools for eleventh-grade students from low-income families who can't afford the test fee. See your counselor for more information about fee waivers.

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How can I get extended time on the PSAT?

Obtaining extended time for the PSAT is a multi-step process. If you want extended time, you should begin by talking to your school counselor. Additional information can be found on the College Board PSAT Accommodations page.

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Score Questions

How is the PSAT scored?

There are four sections on the test: Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (with calculator). The Reading and Writing and Language sections will be scored together as one Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section score. The Math (no calculator) and Math (with calculator) sections will be scored together as a Math Section score.

The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section score and Math Section score are each given a score from 160 to 760.These section scores will be combined to give the composite score, which ranges from 320 to 1520. These are known as scaled scores.

The scaled scores are based on the raw scores for each section. The raw score for a section is calculated by counting the number of correct answers. Unlike the old format of the PSAT, incorrect answers are no longer penalized with a quarter point deduction. Correct answers are counted toward your score, but incorrect answers are not counted against your score. Your raw score will then be compared to those of other test takers to obtain the scaled score.

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What is the average PSAT score?

Your score report will show you the mean, or average, scores earned by typical U.S. test-takers per grade. Up-to-date information on the most recent average PSAT scores can be found on this website.

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When will I get my scores back?

Score reports are sent to your high school in December. Each school makes its own decisions on how and when to distribute the scores. Online score reports are available to students about a week after high schools receive scores.

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Test Day Questions

What should I bring to the test?

There are several things you MUST bring with you to the test:

In addition to these required items, you should also bring:

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What should I NOT bring to the test?

The following items are not allowed, and should be left in the car or at home:

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