Information on the PSAT

A photo of the official PSAT booklet

Timber Creek Talon

A photo of the official PSAT booklet

Riley Emanuel, Staff Writer

As the school year continues, statewide testing is starting to be administered. One of the numerous tests being given is the PSAT. The PSAT stands for “Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.” It is a practice test to prepare students for the actual SAT in their junior year. The test was first given in 1971 and the College Board later developed it to be administered to students. The College Board is a nonprofit organization that was formed in December of 1899 for the sole purpose of developing tests to better prepare students for the real world. The PSAT has changed with time. The test can now be given to 8th, 9th, and 10th graders. 11th graders have the opportunity to take the PSAT as well. The dates vary each year, but for this year, the PSAT testing date is on October 26, 2021. 

The PSAT includes Reading, Writing & Language, and Math. The Reading portion of the test includes 47 questions with a 60 minute time limit. This section includes questions based on literature, historical documents, social sciences, and natural sciences. The Reading section tests students on comprehension, vocabulary, evidence based topics, and analytical skills. The Writing & Language section has 44 questions with a time limit of 35 minutes. The questions on this section include non-fiction passages with arguments that are based on history, social studies, careers, humanities, science, and grammar. The final section of the PSAT is the Math portion. This section has 48 questions with a time span of 70 minutes. The majority of this section is multiple choice but also includes short answer responses. This has two sections, a calculator based section and a non-calculator based section. The math concepts tested include algebra 1, algebra 2, geometry, and trigonometry. The actual SAT includes the same sections, which is why the PSAT is a good trial run before the actual exam is taken. The National Merit Scholarship is an award that  financially helps students in college based on their academic abilities in high school. Juniors take the PSAT in hopes of becoming National Merit Scholars.