About the Tests

PSAT

The PSAT/NMSQT is essentially a shorter version of the SAT. The PSAT is comprised of two Math sections (a calculator and no-calculator section), and two Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections. It is given only once a year, in October.

Though some high schools require it, the PSAT is typically optional. However, even though it’s optional, taking the PSAT is a great idea. It gives all students the opportunity to practice in a real testing situation and provides an accurate sense of a starting score. You’ll also receive detailed feedback on your student’s strengths and weaknesses. And, there’s no pressure: if you do poorly, it doesn’t matter—colleges never see these scores.

The PSAT can count for one thing, though: the National Merit Scholarship program. Juniors scoring around the 97th percentile of the PSAT scores in their state will get a National Merit Letter of Commendation. Those students scoring in the 99th percentile of PSAT scores in their state will qualify as National Merit Semifinalists. Just a quick note: only juniors can qualify for a National Merit commendation. (Learn how to understand your student’s PSAT scores here!)

Section Time Allotted (min.) Number of Questions
Reading 60 47
Writing and Language 35 44
Math 70 48
Total 165 139

 

THE REDESIGNED SAT

The redesigned SAT is here. According to the College Board, this change was made so that the test would better reflect high school curriculum and be an indicator of college readiness.

We have incorporated the new test material into a revised SAT Book of Knowledge curriculum and have created supplementary materials, drills and seminars with the information released by The College Board. The College Board has officially released seven full-length sample SATs in the redesigned format.

Section Details
Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Reading · 65 Minutes long
· 52 multiple choice reading comprehension questions
Writing & Language · 35 minutes long
· 44 grammar and usage questions
Math No Calculator · 25 minutes long
· 15 multiple choice and 5 grid-in math questions
Calculator Permitted · 55 minutes long
· 30 multiple choice and 8 grid-in math questions
Essay · 50 minutes long
· Essay is optional and is scored independently out of 8
Scoring · EBRW and Math sections each scored out of 800
· Scores combined to creat composite score out of 1600

 

Download A-List’s one-pager on the redesigned test here.