The PSAT-NMSQT is a practice SAT exam that serves as a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program. It is familiar to most high school students. However, fewer people have heard of the PSAT 10, a sophomore-specific variant of the PSAT.

What is the PSAT 10, precisely, and why should you take it?

The PSAT 10 examinations, scheduled to take place in the spring of 2020, got canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the 2015-16 school year, the PSAT 10 was introduced as a practice SAT exam. It is an SAT-aligned exam, which means it contains the same question types and Reading, Writing, and Math portions. PSAT scores range from 320 to 1520 on a total scale. Unlike the SAT, which is geared toward juniors and seniors, the PSAT 10 exam is geared toward high school sophomores. As a result, the questions are less challenging than those on the SAT.

The scholarship contest begins a two-year process when students take the test in junior year. The PSAT/NMSQT, usually scheduled in mid-October, will be held on October 12 and 15, 2022, with an alternate test day on October 25.

It is crucial to understand that the PSAT 10 is the same exam as the PSAT/NMSQT, suitable for sophomores and juniors. In other words, these two examinations have identical questions, sections, and time duration. The following are the two most significant distinctions between the PSAT 10 exam and the PSAT/NMSQT:

PSAT 10 is administered at a different time than the PSAT/NMSQT: The PSAT 10 is given to sophomores once a year in the spring. At the same time, the PSAT/NMSQT is given once a year in the fall.

As opposed to the PSAT/NMSQT, the PSAT 10 does not qualify you for National Merit: Do not expect to receive any scholarships or honors if you achieve a high score on PSAT 10.

As previously noted, the PSAT NMSQT is the same test as the PSAT 10. The PSAT/NMSQT, like the PSAT 10, is a practice SAT exam comparable to the SAT. The PSAT 10 follows the same material and format as the PSAT/NMSQT. The College Board provides detailed instructions on how the PSAT 10 varies from the SAT, especially difficulty and substance.

The PSAT 10 is 2 hours and 45 minutes duration, the same length as the PSAT NMSQT.

PSAT Section Total Time Questions
Reading 60 minutes 47
Writing and Language 35 minutes 44
Math 70 minutes 48

PSAT 10 exam Reading section:

In the PSAT 10 Reading section, all questions are multiple-choice and based on texts. Each student is given 60 minutes to respond to 47 questions. The passages in the Reading section are from American and international literature, history/social studies pieces, and scientific publications.

You will be given four passages and a set of matching passages to compare. In addition, you will be required to break down and analyze informational images like charts, graphs, and tables that appear in some passages. In other words, the Reading component goes beyond the typical standardized test of “read the chapter, answer the questions.”

Both parts of the PSAT and SAT Reading examinations, according to the College Board’s comparison of the two tests, span text levels from 9th to 10th grade, as well as some postsecondary or college-level works.

While the difficulty of the Reading passages is the same in both examinations, the overall quantity of words in these passages varies. For example, the SAT has 3,250 words in its passages, but the PSAT has only 3000 words.

PSAT Reading section tests the following skills:
Analysis in history/social studies and science passages: You will have to evaluate patterns in the literature and pick responses that explain how and why certain occurrences are true in history/social studies and scientific analysis.
Interpretation of words in context: Words in context interpretation imply you will be required to define a word’s meaning in the context of the paragraph. It is worth noting that you will not be quizzed on esoteric vocabulary terms.
Command of evidence: Finally, command of evidence assesses your ability to spot bits or phrases in a paragraph that support or refute certain statements, conclusions, or interpretations.

PSAT 10 exam Writing Section

You will also get passages on the PSAT 10 writing section. However, for these questions, you will be asked to act as an editor working to improve a writing piece. All questions are multiple-choice, just like the PSAT 10 Reading portion. Students are given 35 minutes to read and respond to 44 questions. Arguments, informative/explanatory texts, and nonfiction narratives are all included in the PSAT 10 Writing section. These cover history/social studies, science, and the humanities, among other themes. Informational visuals, such as charts, graphs, and tables, are also included in several sections. Long passages demand you to answer questions regarding the entire passage’s organization, meaning, and significance.

The writing questions also focus on the same subscores in the case of the reading section questions. However, two more subscores will be evaluated: presentation of ideas and standard English conventions and norms. This means that you will have to work on the substance of paragraphs on a technical level in addition to understanding their meanings.

PSAT 10 exam Math Section

You will have 70 minutes to answer 48 questions in the PSAT Math section. The majority of questions will be multiple-choice, but there will be some student-created (grid-in) responses, which make up roughly 17% of Math problems. The PSAT Math test, like the SAT Math section, is separated into two parts: a “No-Calculator” Math Test, which does not allow the use of a calculator, and a “Calculator” Math Test, which does. Grid-ins will be provided for each subsection. In the Math portion, the emphasis is on problem-solving, modeling, strategic tool use, and identifying and manipulating algebraic structures.

The SAT covers pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, basic statistics, and trigonometry. But, the PSAT 10 has fewer difficult algebra, geometry, and trigonometry problems. Nonetheless, you may anticipate a detailed examination of pre-algebra, fundamental algebra, and basic statistics.

What is a good PSAT 10 Score?

What is a satisfactory PSAT score? The PSAT scoring scale is a bit complicated. Each of the three examinations (Reading, Writing & Language, and Math) will yield a score of 8 to 38. PSAT scores range from 160 to 760 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math.

You will obtain subscores in addition to your total scores, which will give a more detailed analysis of your PSAT performance. The PSAT score also assigns a percentile value to your results. It lets you compare your results to those of other high school juniors who took the test.

Experts advise students to consider their goals while striving for a specific score. Whether it is to prepare for the SAT or to win a scholarship. For sophomores, the average PSAT 10 score and PSAT/NMSQT score was 959, while for juniors, it was 1044.

Test scores might reflect strengths, shortcomings, and flaws students can correct before taking the SAT. First, however, determine the precise score required to receive a National Merit Scholarship. It is so because the score ranges change. There is no fixed or a ‘good’ score from year to year.

How to register for PSAT 10?

Students are not allowed to register directly through the College Board website. Instead, high schools register students for PSAT. Many school districts pay for this test for all students. Students who are homeschooled should register with their local high school.

How to prepare for PSAT?

The PSAT 10 assesses your reading, writing, and language skills, as well as your arithmetic knowledge and ability. This is not an examination where you must memorize terms and facts you will never need again. Instead, it concentrates on what you have already learned in school and what you will need in college, and your future. It assesses your critical-thinking and reasoning abilities, which will serve you well throughout high school, college, and beyond.

When should you take the PSAT 10?

If you are a junior, you should take the PSAT NMSQT. The NMSQT is your best chance, even if your institution enables juniors to take the PSAT 10. But, if you are a sophomore, take the PSAT 10 if you do not want to attend a top 20 school but still want to do well on the SAT to get into other good universities and obtain scholarships. Keep in mind that you may take the PSAT 10 and still study for the PSAT NMSQT in junior year to qualify for National Merit.

The PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9 are the two options for first-year students. The PSAT 8/9 is a simplified version of the PSAT 10 and PSAT NMSQT, with comparable question styles and substance. It will be more productive for the freshmen to take a test that is tailored to their grade level or near to it. You should take the PSAT 10 exam and aim for a good PSAT score if you are a high-achieving student who wants to attend a prestigious university or you took the PSAT 8/9 in eighth grade.