The PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized test administered to students in grade 11 and sponsored by The College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The PSAT/NMSQT is very similar to the SAT in terms of structure and format, but there are a few key differences:

  • The PSAT is just a bit easier than the SAT® (there are fewer advanced questions)
  • The PSAT is shorter than the SAT®
  • The PSAT does not include an optional essay, while the SAT® does

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The PSAT/NMSQT serves as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year, 7500 students who earn exceptional scores and who meet other qualifying criteria earn scholarship money.

Why Do Students take the PSAT?

  1. To gain practice experience and measure baseline ability (all versions of test).
  2. To determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSQT).
  3. To fulfill testing requirements for practice high school admissions (PSAT 8/9).

See below more information on the different versions of the PSAT:

PSAT informational chart from Tutor Doctor

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Who Should Prepare for the PSAT?

  • Academically gifted students. The National Merit Scholarship Program awards scholarship dollars to approximately 7500 exceptional students each year. Students who are earning As in advanced classes, or those who have performed very well on other standardized exams should prepare for the PSAT!
  • Students applying to private high schools. Some private high schools use PSAT scores in lieu of or in addition to SSAT/ISEE exams for their admissions requirements. These students should prepare for the PSATs.
  • Students with test anxiety. Students with significant test anxiety will benefit from preparing for the PSAT as these sessions will give students practical strategies and boost confidence. Also, for these students, starting the college admissions process in a positive and proactive way can be very beneficial.

How Can Tutor Doctor Help?

Because the PSAT and the SAT® are nearly identical in terms of structure and content, we use the same methodology we employ with SAT prep! Read more here.