Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a standardized test administered by College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation. This test is also known as National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Total score of test is called selection index and used for awarding scholarships by National Merit Scholarship Corporation, National Scholarship Service, Telluride Association and National Hispanic Recognition Program. Due to its resemblance with SAT, it is considered as a practice test for SAT exam. The students are able to judge their performance at national level and identify their weaknesses and strengths. The score report plus is an elaborate report containing suggestions for further improvements. It significantly helps in performing better in actual SAT test.
This test is taken by high school students before appearing in actual SAT test. PSAT is conducted to evaluate students at national level. Its repute is due to its association with the College Board.
This test is based on three skill areas- critical reading, mathematics and writing. There are five sections in this exam- two of critical reading and mathematics each and one writing section. The sections on critical reading contain questions on reading comprehension and sentence completion. The mathematical sections are derived from high school mathematics covering topics like number system and operations, algebra, measurement, statistics, probability, geometry, functions, graphs etc. The writing section consists of questions related to sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, organization, transition and writing strategy.
There are two sections of critical reading each consisting of 48 questions. In these sections, 35 questions are related to given passages while 13 questions belong to sentence completion. These passage related questions require extraction of an information or idea from given text, drawing conclusions or generalization of given passage. The sentence completion questions pertain to identification of grammatical errors, sentence structure and organization. In each of these mathematical sections, there are 38 questions of which 28 are multiple choice type and 10 are grid-ins. The time allotted for critical reading and mathematical sections is 25 minutes each. There are 39 multiple choice questions in writing section which are to be answered in 30 minutes. In this section, 14 questions are related to identification of errors, 20 to sentence improvement and 5 on paragraph improvement.
Each question in all sections is given a single raw point. There is negative marking except in grid-in questions. One-forth of a point is deducted on a wrong answer. The raw score of each section is then scaled in a range from 20 to 80 through a process called equalization. The sum of scores of all sections is called Selection Index which serves as the criteria of selecting candidates for scholarships. A result of this test is a comprehensive report called Score Report Plus which contains scores of each section, selection index and recommendations.
PSAT is conducted at various high schools. There are no official test centers for organizing this exam. The test is held mostly in month of October.
The exam fee of PSAT is $13. There can be additional charges imposed by the school organizing this test.