The Preliminary SAT(PSAT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and is cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in the United States. In simpler words, PSAT is like ‘mini-SAT’ which is taken by Indian students as a practice test for the SAT exam. The PSAT helps students get familiarized with the concept of standardized testing and offers excellent practice at an early stage- quite unlike the exams they typically experience in school. Unfortunately, PSAT does not provide scholarship opportunities to Indian students.

The PSAT should be ideally taken by students in the 9th grade who are planning to take the SAT or ACT in the near future. It is just to give the students an idea about the difficulty level and the testing pattern of the SAT and other similar exams.

Fee: For Indian applicants, taking the PSAT costs about $17 (INR 1156.94).

Just like the SAT, the PSAT assesses problem-solving skills and subject matter learned in high school in the following three areas: Critical Reading, Math and Writing. However, it is scored out of a total of 1520, unlike out of 1600 in the SAT.

Talking about the length of the test, the PSAT lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes

Each section of the PSAT is timed. Here is the actual breakup of the time allotted for the four sections on the SAT:

- PSAT Reading Test -47 Questions in 60 minutes
- PSAT Writing and Language Test- 44 questions in 35 minutes
- PSAT Math (NO Calculator)- 17 questions in 25 minutes
- SAT Math (With Calculator)- 31 questions in 45 minutes.

The PSAT has no essay section.

The PSAT comprises of four sections namely Reading, Writing and Language, Math (No calculator) and Math (with calculator) section. Let’ s understand each section in detail.

47 Questions in 60 minutes

The PSAT Reading Test includes a passage from a classic or contemporary work of U.S. or world literature, a passage or a pair of passages from either a U.S. founding document or a text in the Great Global Conversation they inspired. Furthermore, it also contains a passage revolving around social science topics like economics, psychology, or sociology. Lastly, it consists of two science passages (or one passage and one passage pair) that examine foundational concepts and developments in Earth science, biology, chemistry, or physics.

The question types on the PSAT Reading Test can be broadly categorized as follows:

- Close Reading
- Citing Textual Evidence
- Global Inference and Command of Evidence Questions.

- Understanding Relationship
- Interpreting words & phrases in context
- Detail, connection & Vocab. In Context Question

- Analyzing Word Choice,text Structure point of view & purpose

- Analyzing Multiple Texts and quantitative info

44 questions in 35 minutes.

All the 44 questions are multiple choice and based on passages. These passages range from arguments to nonfiction narratives and will be about careers, history, social studies, the humanities, and science.

The question types on the PSAT Writing and Language Test can be broadly categorized as follows

- Development Organization & Effective Language Usage.
- Analyzing Graphs

- Sentence Structure
- Convention of usage
- Punctuation
- Verb Tense
- Subject verb agreement
- Comma usage

17 questions in 25 minutes

The PSAT Math- No calculatorsection constitutes 36% of the total PSAT Math score and tests a student’ s proficiency in Math based on the following topics:

- Liner Equation and Inequalities
- Polynomials & Factoring
- Linear Functions and Functions Notation
- Midpoint, Distance in Slope in x-y Plane

- Area & Volime
- Geometrical relationships
- Lines,Angles,Triangles
- Polygons and Circles
- Circle Equation and Graph
- Complex Numbers
- Trigonometric Functions and Graphs

- Zeros, Factors and Graph of Polynomials
- Radical, Exponential and Fractional Equations
- Quadratic Equations and Parabola, Vertex form
- Nonlinear System of Equations
- Transformations of Functions and their graphs

31 questions in 45 minutes

The PSAT Math calculatorsection constitutes64% of the total PSAT Math score and tests a student’s proficiency in Math based on the following topics.

- Liner Equation and Inequalities
- Polynomials & Factoring
- Linear Functions and Functions Notation
- Midpoint, Distance in Slope in x-y Plane

- Area & Volime<
- Geometrical relationships
- Lines,Angles,Triangles
- Polygons and Circles
- Circle Equation and Graph
- Complex Numbers
- Trigonometric Functions and Graphs

- Ratio, Proportions, Percentages, Rates
- Analyzing Data using graphs and Scatterplots, Two-way tables
- Statistical Measures
- Linear and Exponential Modelling

- Zeros, Factors and Graph of Polynomials
- Radical, Exponential and Fractional Equations
- Quadratic Equations and Parabola, Vertex form
- Nonlinear System of Equations
- Transformations of Functions and their graphs

The PSAT is held only ONCE a year- in October. Many students take the PSAT in Grade 9, and then again in Grade 10, to measure their improvement. Ideally, a student should take the PSAT in grade 9. The advantage of taking the PSAT early is that the PSAT Score will provide a detailed insight into the student’ s performance- the subject’ s strengths and weaknesses- and can assess his/her performance.

Talking about the dates, the PSAT is conducted on a date that has been predetermined by the 'College Board,' the conducting body of PSAT. The board offers a primary date and an alternate test date, and each school decides which date they will administer the PSAT on.

- The primary date is usually a Wednesday of the second week of October.
- The alternate date is usually a Wednesday of the third week of October.
- The Saturday test date is usually the second Saturday of October.

Each school chooses a test date and inform its students in advance. The PSAT results are usually announced in the month of January.

The PSAT evaluates the skills that students are already learning in their high school. Hence the school course work is sufficient for the PSAT preparation. Since the scores do not directly impact admission to universities, students should not get stressed out- Remember it is just a practice exam!

Once you get to know the PSAT pattern and question types, it is time for some action. The College Board has provided few sample papers on its website which should be attempted by the students without fail. Apart from the online resources, there are several books available that guides students through PSAT/SAT preparation. Students should spend sufficient time mastering each topic and practising full-length tests diligently.

If your score is anything below 1200/1520, you need to analyze your performance and understand your problem areas.

If you feel that you absolutely need help with the PSAT, you can enrol yourself at Tutela. Our course structure for the PSAT preparation is as follows:

- Frequency: 4 classes per week, Class Duration: 2 hours each, Batch Size: Up to 6 students
- Diagnostic Test to evaluate aptitude and test-taking skills before registration
- A comprehensive set of study materials and assessments
- Coverage of topics and contemporary methods to increase speed and accuracy
- Intensive workshops before the actual test
- Mock Tests followed by 1-on-1 exhaustive review and evaluation
- Extended assistance even after course-completion

This perception is not completely flawed; however, why would the College Board conduct an exam if it is not useful? Though we agree that taking the PSAT does not provide scholarship opportunities for Indian applicants, but taking the PSAT does pave the path for assured success. Students should be encouraged to take the test so that they gain a good understanding of their skills and identify areas they need to work on.

The student can be stress-free during the test and get a sense of their natural abilities. Moreover, taking the PSAT helps the student get familiarize with the concept of standardized testing and offers excellent practice for the same. It can even aid in deciding whether to take the SAT or the ACT at a later stage.

This is absolutely untrue. Taking the PSAT is the first step. It prepares you for the SAT. As a matter of fact, students fare well on the SAT than they do on the PSAT. This is simply because the PSAT makes you better prepared for the SAT.

Well! There is little or no truth in this. It is true that PSAT is cosponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in the United States, but unfortunately it does not provide scholarship opportunities to international students.

A super low score on the PSAT would have absolutely no effect on the college applications. It should be regarded as a practice test which makes you better prepared for the SAT/ACT.