Many area students will take the PSAT-NMSQT test on October 11, 2017.  Check your school’s calendar and be ready for the test!

The test is a warm-up for the SAT test.  Students can take the SAT instead of the ACT test to apply to college.  The College Board, a non-profit organization which created Advanced Placement courses and testing, administers the SAT and PSAT.  (The ACT test is provided by ACT Inc.)  The National Merit Scholarship Corporation also uses PSAT test results to identify National Merit scholars, who can then qualify for scholarships.  For high performing students, this is an opportunity to earn college dollars and the prestige of being named a National Merit Semi-Finalist or Finalist.  It is worth the effort to become familiar with the test beforehand to earn a better score.

The PSAT-NMSQT test is a shorter version of the SAT.  The test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes.  There are sections in Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.

PSAT Test Section Number of Questions


Time Allowed
Reading 47 60 minutes
Writing/Language 44 37 minutes
Math with calculator 31 45 minutes
Math without calculator 17 25 minutes


Prepare for the Test.

The attached  Official Student Guide includes an overview of each test, with sample questions and answers given in-text.  Look closely at how the questions are formatted.  The Guide also includes extensive information about the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and the scholarships.

Take A Practice Test

After you review the test format and test questions, take a practice PSAT test.  You can download two tests here.   Download a scoring sheet, as well as answers and explanations.  However, if taking the whole test in one sitting isn’t practical, do it section by section.  Time yourself, and remember to fill in every blank—there is no penalty for guessing!

Review Your Results

After the test is complete, score your test and review your answers.  Try to identify patterns in the questions you missed.  Use that information to try to improve on the second practice test.

Taking the PSAT-NMSQT Test is also good practice for the ACT.  For example, both tests require that students manage the allotted time and both test relevant skills.  For more information about ACT preparation at Knowledge Edge, click here.