What is the PSAT?

Before coming to when to take PSAT, let’s learn what PSAT is. The PSAT, short form of Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, is primarily a practice edition of the SAT, the top scorers on this examination are qualified for scholarships, which lead to additional college funding and will aid college application.

Scoring well on the PSAT in your junior year qualifies you for a National Merit Scholarship; $180 million in academic scholarships are offered to students every year. The duration of PSAT is 2 hours and 45 minutes which assesses your reading, writing, and arithmetic skills. Unlike the SAT, the maximum possible PSAT score is 1520. There is no consequence for selecting the incorrect answer.

The test is often administered in October, and students can register through their high school. The PSAT costs $12, and several schools charge additional administration costs. Students should inquire with their counselors about the specifics, date, and place of the test. In December, the results are normally handed to high school. 

Now the question is when to take PSAT/ NMSQT.

Taking the PSAT today 

When people talk about the PSAT, they usually refer to the test that students take during their junior year. Here’s a basic rundown of the three PSAT types:

PSAT 8/9

Students in the eighth and ninth grades take this test (there is no fixed date). The PSAT 8/9 is twenty minutes shorter than the PSAT, lasting around two hours and twenty-five minutes. It features five fewer Reading questions, ten fewer Math questions, and four fewer Writing and Language questions than the PSAT. It is also rated on a scale from 240 to 1440.

PSAT 10 

The PSAT 10 is the same test. However, there is no “NMSQT.” Your PSAT 10 score will not entitle you to a National Merit Scholarship. It is graded on a scale of 320 to 1520. Like the PSAT/NMSQT, this test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes. It includes 47 reading questions, 48 math questions, and 44 writing and language questions. The PSAT 10 is administered in the fall of the second year in college instead of the PSAT for eleventh graders.


Now one of the most asked questions arises, “When to take PSAT for National Merit Scholarship?” PSAT/NMSQT is the same as the PSAT 10, except that a significantly high PSAT/NMSQT result might entitle you to a National Merit Scholarship. It is administered in the fall of the third year. The present PSAT/NMSQT includes fifteen questions less than the SAT, with five fewer in reading, ten fewer in Math, and the same amount in Writing and Language.

Concludingly, the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT are nearly identical. The most significant differences are in time duration and score. The PSAT is scored on 320–1520, whereas the SAT is 400–1600.

When to take the PSAT?

There is no such thing as a good or bad moment to take the PSAT. You have to do what seems appropriate for you and your circumstance.

Because students can take the PSAT during any or all of their first three years of high school, it might not be easy to know when to take it. Most students benefit from taking the PSAT during their sophomore year. Attempting the PSAT 9 and 10 can allow you to get in a trial run prior to your high year, which is when your score matters for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Who is eligible for the PSAT?

Most high schools have a day set aside for juniors to take a practice SAT. The PSAT is to assist students in understanding the concepts from the questions. They also learn to sustain themselves during the arithmetic and pivotal reading components. The results will subsequently be discussed in English courses, with answers explained, and any student queries answered. However, this practice SAT is not the same as the genuine PSAT.

The PSAT is not only for juniors. However, it is developed with them in consideration. The PSAT is the most common test taken by students during their sophomores and junior years of high school.

Is it necessary for my child to take the PSAT?

You might be wondering if your child should even take the PSAT. If yes, then when to take the PSAT/NMSQT.

Well, there are several advantages to taking the PSAT at least once in junior year of high school.

Because PSAT 9 and 10 scores are not normally given to colleges and universities, there is no need to be concerned that a test statistic (or lack thereof) will harm the college application process.

Furthermore, PSAT 9 and 10 is an opportunity to qualify for National Merit, which can open doors for various scholarships and colleges. In addition, it might assist in determining which AP classes your kid may excel in.

What are the benefits of the PSAT?

While the most obvious advantage of taking the PSAT is preparing for the SAT or subsequent PSATs, there is another advantage. PSAT results from the junior year apply to the National Merit Corporation, or NMSC, the test’s administrators. Your score will make you eligible for college and university-recognized distinctions and awards.

If you are called a Finalist, you have received the highest rank from the NMSC. This rank, however, does not come with a scholarship. One in every six Finalist students is chosen a scholar and receives a one-time $2,500 college scholarship from the programme.

Finalists may also be awarded corporate or college-sponsored scholarships based on their disciplines, career goals, parents’ jobs, or First Choice institutions. Scholarships offered by corporations or colleges vary in value and are often renewable each year.

Do you need to study for PSAT?

PSAT prep can be beneficial if your child wants to get the most out of their SAT preparation or if they want to compete for a National Merit Scholarship during their junior year.

Preparing a PSAT schedule based on your child’s aspirations is a terrific method to assess their academic qualities and shortcomings and prepare for their post-graduate aspirations.

The dates for PSAT testing are displayed on the College Board webpage, and it is useful to be aware of these dates while developing a strategy with your child. 

PSAT Preparation in 5 Easy Steps

Make the most of it by following this step-by-step timetable as you prepare for this exam!

Step 1: Prepare for the PSAT and learn about the exam structure.

  • The best approach to begin PSAT preparation is to grasp the test structure, such as the questions and concepts it will test you on.
  • While the official College Board website provides thorough information about the structure and scoring methodology for the PSAT, the exam is primarily divided into four parts: Reading, Writing and Language, Math No-Calculator, and Math Calculator.

Step 2: Ascertain a target PSAT score.

  • The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320 to 1520 points. The typical PSAT score is roughly 920, whereas an excellent PSAT score is over 1350.
  • Once you have a good idea of the PSAT score range, it is critical to set a goal to reach on the practice exams.
  • The best feature about multiple-choice questions, whether from English or math portions, is that they provide the solution, so all you have to do is identify the proper one for each question.
  • Because the PSAT is an excellent method to become acquainted with the structure and content of the SAT, comparing your actual score to the goal score can show you which areas require development, independent of your grades in relevant subjects.

Step 3: Take PSAT Practice Tests

  • Taking PSAT practice exams is the most effective approach to sharpen your abilities. Several websites offer sample exams as well as comprehensive solutions. You can also use the materials suggested by the College Board.
  • When taking the practice exams, be careful to imitate testing conditions by pacing yourself and familiarizing yourself with the test structure and directions.

Step 4: Assess your strengths and shortcomings

  • Keeping track of your mistakes as they occur in practice tests becomes vital. More importantly, please do not allow them to detract from your preparation.
  • Find out whether there are any commonalities in those errors. Make a point of devoting attention to the queries you didn’t address at all.

Step 5: Identify the best resources as you plan the ideal timetable.

  • PSAT prep books might help you prepare for the PSAT test in a big way. As a result, it is worthwhile to review evaluations, explore online, research, and acquire the right stuff.
  • It is also critical to take at least one timed; full-length practice exam roughly a week before the actual PSAT. Simulating testing settings as precisely as feasible will assist you in becoming more at ease with the PSAT exam process.


Underplaying the importance of the PSAT is a typical error, but it is readily remedied. The test is an important step in preparing for SAT achievement. You can not only get a head start on your PSAT prep but you may also be able to win coveted scholarship funds.