What Does the PSAT Cover? 

The PSAT, which underwent a redesign in 2015 to accompany the 2016 SAT redesign, is extremely similar to the SAT in both content and form.  There are three sections on the PSAT: Reading, Writing and Language and Math.  (There is NO optional Essay section on the PSAT.)  Each of these sections appears only once on the PSAT in a predetermined order: Reading, Writing, Math.  What Is the PSAT? Is it Important?

The PSAT/NMSQT, or PSAT, is a practice test for the SAT that’s offered every fall for 10th and 11th graders.  It also serves as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which awards $2,500 scholarships annually to high-scoring 11th graders.

You must register for the PSAT test at your own school (or a nearby school) and take it on the test date chosen by your school.  The test fee is $16, but this cost varies depending on the school.  Fee waivers are usually available to low-income juniors.

The overall structure and content of the PSAT is similar to that of the SAT.  There are three sections (Reading, Writing, and Math) that combine for a total score on a scale of 320-1520.  PSAT scores directly correspond to SAT scores, meaning a score on the PSAT will always equal the same score on the SAT.

Ultimately, how important your PSAT score is depends on what you plan to do with it.  If you want to qualify for National Merit or eventually get a high SAT score, it’s critical you get a good PSAT score.  But if not, your PSAT score won’t hold much significance for you or anyone else.  In any case, your PSAT score will always be far less important than your SAT (or ACT) score!