The PSAT: The Test’s Format and Breakdown

The PSAT is a rite of passage for high school juniors (and some lucky sophomores). The PSAT is a standardized test given to assess math, critical reading, and writing skills, but don’t be confused: The PSAT is a VERY DIFFERENT test than the SAT. Below is the format and breakdown of the PSAT, as well as an explanation of the key differences between the PSAT and SAT.


The PSAT has 5 individually timed sections testing critical reading, math and writing skills. Below is the format of each section.


Number of Questions


Critical Reading 24 25 minutes
Math 20 25 minutes
Critical Reading 24 25 minutes
Math 18 25 minutes
Writing Skills 39 30 minutes



You will receive three scores for the PSAT: Critical Reading score, Math score and Writing Skills score. Each of these scores will be reported on a scale of 20 to 80, where 20 is the lowest possible score and 80 is the highest possible score. Your scores will be mailed to your high school principal. Your principal will distribute your scores to you about 6 - 8 weeks after you take the test.