PSAT Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the PSAT/NMQST?
  2. When is the PSAT given?
  3. How do I register?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. How long does it take to get my scores back?
  6. Can I cancel my PSAT Scores?
  7. What if I miss the PSAT Exam?
  8. How many times can I take the PSAT?
  9. What is a good score?
  10. What is a Commended Scholar?
  11. What score is needed to become a Commended Scholar?
  12. Do you receive a scholarship for becoming a Commended Scholar?
  13. Why is Excel Test prep the best choice for PSAT preparation?
  14. How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the PSAT?
  15. When should I start preparing for the PSAT?
  16. Do colleges care about my PSAT?
  17. How do I find out about scholarships?
  1. What is the PSAT/NMQST?
    The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) or 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 15 minutes and includes two modules each of Reading and Writing and Math, just like the SAT. 

    The PSAT and the SAT cover the same topics and feature the same problem types. The only difference is that the PSAT is slightly less difficult.
     
  2. When is the PSAT given?
    The PSAT is given once a year in October. Students can choose a Saturday date or alternate date.

  3. How do I register?
    You must register for your PSAT through your high school. PSATs are administered at high schools, not at test centers. Make sure you know ahead of time the date, time and location of the test. Online registration for the PSAT/NMSQT is not available.

  4. How much does it cost?
    To take the PSAT there is a $18 charge; however, sometimes schools charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs, so the costs may vary by school.

  5. How long does it take to get my scores back?
    With the new digital format, scores are available in 2-3 days! 

  6. Can I cancel my PSAT Scores?
    If you leave the PSAT before the exam is over, your score is canceled. However, students should finish the exam because PSAT scores are not sent to colleges.

  7. 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 the National Merit Scholarship, you can still enter programs conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation if you meet other requirements. For more information on the National Merit Corporation and their programs, please visit www.nationalmerit.org.

  8. 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.

  9. 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. In California, the cutoffs each year from 2021-2024 were all 221. As a general rule, if you score a 221 or better on the PSAT, you should be a strong contender for becoming a National Merit Semifinalist.

  10. What is a Commended Scholar?

    A Commended Scholar means the student did not qualify to become a National Merit Scholar but was top %5 depending on the state.

  11. 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 California, the student should generally score 215 or higher.

  12. 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.

  13. Why is Excel Test prep the best choice for PSAT preparation?

    • Excel Test prep SAT/PSAT Courses offer an intensive program with 10 classes of 3 hours each over 4 - 6 weeks. Excel Test prep Courses offer unique and extremely effective strategies not taught anywhere else, by highly experienced, dynamic instructors.

    • Course materials include our Excel Test prep Digital SAT Manual with tricks and tips to do well on the PSAT and SAT and the College Board Digital SAT Official Guide.

    • Tutoring help (in-person or online) is available for students during and after their Excel Test prep course at a very competitive fee.

  14. 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. The math section will not include any math questions from Algebra II; however, it is covered in the SAT Exam.

  15. 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. Students studying only for the SAT should start by the summer before the 11th grade.

  16. 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. Both of these are very prestigious honors.

  17. 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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