PSAT Test Structure

Importance of Knowing the PSAT Test Structure

PSAT is the abbreviation for Preliminary SAT and is also referred to as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). It is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in cooperation with the College Board. The PSAT is basically administered to help students pay their graduation fees. However, since it is allowed to be taken by even a sixth grader, this test is taken by a whopping number of students as firsthand practice test for SAT. If you are serious on preparing for the PSAT to make to the scholarship competition, then it is strongly advised that you prepare a foolproof prep plan to achieve your goal. Apparently, the first part of it is to understand thePSAT test structure completely.

Importance of the Knowledge of PSAT

Before you can possibly prepare a strong preparation schedule for PSAT, it would be better if you are sound with the details concerning the test's structure. This helps in making your preparation schedule more strategic. If you can understand the test structure completely, then you can clearly know which parts of the test you need to concentrate more on. This will help you shift your focus depending upon the requirement.

Actually, test structure does not just mean the paper pattern but also includes the consideration of the syllabus, various question types that you should deal with, the time frame, your skills etc. Furthermore, knowing about the scoring technique would also help you to strategize your preparation schedule. Let us now discuss about what PSAT consists of and what you would face at the time of the test.

What does the PSAT Contain?

PSAT comprises three parts, which include the Critical Reading, Writing Skills and Math. Technically speaking, there are a total of five sections, two Critical Reading and two Math sections along with one Writing skills section. Both of the Critical Reading and the Math sections extend for a total time of 25 minutes each whereas the Writing Skills section extends for a total time of 30 minutes. The following points clearly explain the syllabus for thePSAT.

  • Critical Reading section, as the name suggests assesses your verbal abilities alongside your ability to analyze critically.
  • The Math section tests your basic knowledge of mathematical concepts. Broadly the mathematical areas that you must concentrate to tackle the Math section include the topics of Numbers and Operations, Elementary Algebra, Functions, Geometry and Measurement, Statistics and Probability.
  • The Writing skills section tests your written English language usage abilities.

Question Types

The following points explain about the number of questions and the question types that appear in the test.

  • In the Critical Reading section, you shall have to face a total of 48 multiple-choice questions, out of which there would be 13 sentence completion and 35 critical reading questions. Sentence completion questions require you to fill in a blank with the appropriate word from the options whereas the critical reading questions are based upon passages.
  • The Math section contains problems to be solved. In this section, there are a total of 38 problem solving questions, of which 28 are multiple-choice questions and the other 10 are grid-ins.
  • The Writing Skills section consists of a total of 39 questions, out of which there would be 14 sentence error identification type, 20 improving sentences type and 5 improving paragraphs type of questions.

PSAT test structure has been outlined very clearly. However, you should personally visit the official website ( in order to clearly understand the question types by having a look at the samples provided there. Make sure that you understand every bit of it before you can kick start your preparation.