Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test
The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program co-sponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.
The PSAT has only two testing dates per year, in October (Wednesday and Saturday)
The PSAT/NMSQT measures:
Critical reading skills
Math problem-solving skills
The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are to:
Receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
See how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
Enter the competition for scholarships from NMSC (grade 11).
Help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.
Receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service
What is on the Test
The PSAT/NMSQT includes five sections:
Two 25-minute critical reading sections Two 25-minute math sections One 30-minute writing skills section
The whole test requires two hours and 10 minutes.
National Merit Scholarship Corporation
Students in the eleventh grade of high school enter NMSC competitions by taking the PSAT/NMSQT, which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and/or participation requirements. NMSC uses the Selection Index score (the sum of the critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills scores) on the PSAT/NMSQT as an initial screen of program entrants and to designate groups of students to be honored in the competitions it conducts.
Information on the Score Report PSAT/NMSQT scores are reported on a scale of 20 to 80. In 2012, the average score for eleventh graders was about 48 in Critical Reading, 49 in Mathematics, and 47 in Writing Skills. The average score for tenth graders was about 43 in Critical Reading, 44 in Mathematics, and 42 in Writing Skills.
Also listed on your score report is the Selection Index, which is used to determine eligibility in National Merit Scholarship Corporation programs (NMSC). It is the sum of the three scores in each test section (CR + M + W). The Selection Index ranges from 60 to 240. The average Selection Index for students in eleventh grade is about 144. Note: Only students in eleventh grade are eligible to enter NMSC scholarship programs.
Finally, score reports include national percentiles, which allow you to compare your scores with other students in your grade level who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT. Another way to understand percentiles is to imagine 100 students lined up from the lowest (or 1st) percentile at the end of the line to the highest (or 99th) percentile at the front of the line. If you are at the 55th percentile, you would be the 56th person in line, ahead of 55 people in the line and behind 44.
NOTE: When receiving PSAT test scores, if students add a "0" to the end of their score in each section, it will give an estimate equivalent to a score on an SAT exam