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PSAT FAQs

What is the PSAT/NMQST?

The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) or The National Merit Qualifying Scholarship Test (NMSQT) is a test that helps you practice for the SAT. The test also enables you to enter the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs. It is 2 hours and 10 minute and includes the following sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. The Writing section does not include an essay.

When is the PSAT given?

The PSAT is usually given once a year in the fall around October.

How do I register?

To register for the PSAT, you have to contact your high school counselor for the test. Make sure you know ahead of time, the date, time and location of the test. Online registration for the PSAT/NMSQT is not available.

How much does it cost?

To take the PSAT, there is a $12 charge; however, sometimes schools charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs. The costs may vary by school.

How long does it take to get my scores back?

Score reports are mailed to your high school in December. Each school makes its own decisions on how and when to distribute the scores. Scores are not available via phone or online.

Can I cancel my PSAT Scores?

If you leave the PSAT before the exam is over, your score is cancelled. However, students should finish the exam because PSAT scores are not sent to colleges.

What if I miss the PSAT Exam?

If you are a junior and are concerned about taking the PSAT to prepare for the SAT, then you have other options to prepare for the SAT. You can visit your counselor for information on other preparation options. If you are concerned about receiving information about colleges, you can complete the Student Descriptive Questionnaire when you register for the SAT. If you are concerned about National Merit Scholarship, then you can still enter programs conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation if you meet other requirements to enter their competitions. For more information on the National Merit Corporation and their programs, please visit www.nationalmerit.org.

How many times can I take the PSAT?

You can take the PSAT only once a year. The test is given in October every year. Students usually take the PSAT in both 10th and 11th grades. Only your junior year scores will count towards the National Merit Scholarship Program.

What is a good score?

A good score for the PSAT Exam is the one that enables you to become a National Merit Scholar. The cutoff score varies from year to year and from state to state. To become a National Merit Semifinalist (NMSF), you must score in the top 0.5% in your state on the PSAT. As a general rule, if you score a 217 or better on the PSAT, you should be a strong contender for becoming a National Merit Semifinalist.

What is a Commended Scholar?

A Commended Scholar means the student was in the top 5% of students in their state.

What score is needed to become a Commended Scholar?

The cutoff score for Commended Scholar varies from year to year and state to state. To become a Commended Scholar in the state of Texas, the student should generally score 201 or higher.

Do you receive a scholarship for becoming a Commended Scholar?

No, the Commended Scholar award is given for the prestige involved. It is an achievement to become a Commended Scholar and universities recognize this.

Each university may offer a scholarship if the student is a Commended Scholar but they do not receive a scholarship from the National Merit Scholar organization.

How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the PSAT?

The PSAT math sections cover up to high school geometry. Math section will not include any math questions from Algebra II; however, it is covered in the SAT Exam.

When should I start preparing for the PSAT?

If you have the goal of becoming a National Merit Semi-finalist, it is best to start by June before 10th grade. Otherwise, a student should start by the summer before the 11th grade.

Do colleges care about my PSAT?

Although colleges do not consider your PSAT scores for college admissions, they are interested in seeing whether or not you were recognized as a National Merit Scholar or Commended Scholar.

How do I find out about scholarships?

You can visit www.nationalmerit.org for information on scholarships associated with the PSAT. For other scholarships, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/about/scholarhips.html.

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