What is the PSAT?

What is the PSAT?

At this time of the year, students in 10th and 11th grade are invited to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Tests at their schools, this test is commonly referred to as the PSATs.

So, what is it?


This standardized test is administered by the CollegeBoard at your school to measure how much a student has learned in school so far. This helps to determine whether your student is on track for college. 

  • PSAT 8/9 – administered to 8th and 9th grade students, sets baseline readiness for students
  • PSAT 10 – administered to 10th graders, checks student progress
  • PSAT/NMSQT – administered to 10th and 11th graders, connects students to college and qualifications for scholarships.

SCORE RANGE320 to 1520400 to 1600
LENGTH120 minutes180 minutes
SECTIONSReading, Writing, MathReading, Writing, Math

So should I take it?

Many students and parents fear that the PSATs will affect their chances of college admission. However, there is NO need to worry! As we mentioned earlier, these tests are to check where you are academically, the results can only help you and not hurt! The CollegeBoard does not send your reports to colleges and universities.

The major benefit of the PSAT/NMSQT is that if you do well, you can earn scholarships for your college tuition! The NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) Read more about the details here: National Merit Scholarship Corporation!

How Can I Prepare?

Here at MEK, we have our (P)SAT Core Reading and Writing course. This course not only helps students prepare for the PSATs but also lay down the foundation for their SAT test preparation journey! Furthermore, this test skill building class is correlated and beneficial to school curriculum (the Common Core Standards). You can read more about this in our The Core: The Common Core and PSAT Core Blog! and our SAT Reading and Writing Section- 3 Reasons to Start Early Blog!

Why only the English Section?

Many times, students will show mastery of content from school curriculum, however there is a gap when it comes to standardized tests. For example, a student can have a 4.0 GPA at school, but when it comes to an SAT, their scores may not reflect it. Why is this? 

School is where students should be gaining most of their knowledge of the content, however, mastery does not result in higher test scores. Building testing skills and being exposed to strategies are essential in increasing test scores, and through this course we do that exactly!

At MEK, we consider Operation Number Sense (ONS) and Problem Solving Math (PSM), before students are able to transition into problem solving math, which entails word problems and testing strategies, students must first have shown a mastery of the content. Most of the SAT math section covers high-school level math. It is important to ensure students have built a strong foundation of these topics so that students can properly utilize testing strategies. 

The SAT English section however, covers content we have been taught since elementary school, whether that be standard grammar conventions and reading comprehension. With this, the next step is to train students to understand how this content is assessed on the SATs and building test strategies!

Where do I start?

If you want to get a more clear idea of where you are, we highly recommend you try and take our SAT evaluation test!  You can sign up for either our Free Virtual SAT Evaluation or the Paid SAT In-Person Evaluation!

We are committed to help students not only thrive at school, but in their test preparation as well. If you would like to learn more or get started on your journey, please feel free to contact us here!

Sylvia Yoon

As Junior Counselor, Sylvia works closely with students to make sure that they are making progress and to track the effectiveness of students' study plans. In addition, she manages all new students to ensure that their entry into MEK is as smooth and easy as possible. Sylvia's gentle nature makes her a favorite among students and parents alike as she handles cases with care.


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