PSAT is short for Preliminary SAT, and NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It is a standardized test administered by the College Board, USA, and assodiated with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, USA.
Juniors will be taking the test to practice for the SAT, as well as for eligibility towards the NMSQT. Whereas sophomores sit for it as a practice for NMSQT. Testing the same skills on reading content, writing and language content, math content, the PSAT is aligned with the SAT. in fact the whole SAT Suite of Assessments comprising of PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT, SAT assess a student on the same skill set albeit on a progressively difficult level.
For example, talking about one area of focus – inference – in reading content, a PSAT 8/9 student will have to draw simple single step conclusions (quite written in the text), whereas PSAT 10 and PSAT / NMSQT student will have to draw inference to get the answer, whereas in SAT, he or she will have to go over a number of steps to arrive at the answer.
The 2019 testing schedule has been put up at the official website of College Board, collegeboard.org. The primary test day is on October 16. The Saturday test day is on October 19. And the alternate test day is October 30. Your school may choose any of these dates.
Students will get PSAT / NMSQT scores between December 10 to 12. Educators will be able to view the scores early, on December 3 at K-12 portal. Whereas the scores are not sent to college, they are sent to the school, and in many cases districts and states also get the scores.
As a student, the cost for PSAT comes out to be as much as the school is charging you; a student cannot directly register for the test, it has to be done via the school. Schools may charge over and above the standard fee to cover the test conducting and other costs.
Students need to talk to their counsellors or other concerned persons in school to know about the test date and registration process. Home schooled students, or such students whose schools are not providing the facility for PSAT, can find nearest schools for the same and talk to them for taking the PSAT / NMSQT 2019. The public search feature at collegeboard.org may be used for this purpose.
The total testing time of the exam is 2 hours and 45 minutes. Components of PSAT include two sections. One is evidence-based reading and writing comprising of reading test, writing and language test, and the second is math. Each section is scored on a scale of 160-760, thus bringing the overall scoring to 320-1520, and 8-38 are given for test scores. Post the changes introduced in the year 2015, sub scores are now provided for every test.
The reading section will have 47 questions or tasks to be attempted in 60 minutes. Writing and language section will have 44 questions or tasks, for which 35 minutes are allotted. Mathematics component shall contain 48 questions or tasks to be done in 70 minutes. Thus overall there will be 139 questions for which student will get 165 minutes.
Schools in the USA usually encourage students to take the PSAT / NMSQT as it opens up the gateway for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships pose the double benefit of enabling a student to pay for college, as well as standing apart. Non profit educational organization Khan Academy has officially partnered with College Board to provide full length PSAT / NMSQT practice tests.
While preparing specifically for the PSAT, by taking its practice tests, is a good way to get an edge in the exam, some scholars say that small every day steps also go a long way in PSAT / NMSQT – pay attention in class, ask questions, be inquisitive, do your homework, and learn for the bliss of learning. PSAT takes place only once every year.