The PSAT or Preliminary SAT is a standardized test given by the College Board and The National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Each year, millions of students take the test in the United States.
PSAT scores can be used in order to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program. This program is for students who score a certain level on the test. Many students take the PSAT simply because it is viewed as a good practice run for taking the SAT. The PSAT is usually taken by high school sophomores or juniors. However, students in 7th grade have been known to take the test as well.
The PSAT has 3 sections: a critical reading section, a writing section, and a math section. During the critical reading section, students will be tested on their reading comprehension skills as well as sentence completion abilities. The writing section of the test is multiple choice. Unlike the SAT writing section, there are no essays on the PSAT; some schools do distribute practice essays so that their students can get experience with these types of essay questions before taking the SAT. The math section of the test is multiple choice with some write-in questions. Students are allowed to use calculators during the math portion of the test.
The PSAT is taken in October and usually takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes to complete. In order to sign up for the PSAT, students must register at their high school. High school students wanting to take the PSAT should talk to their guidance counselor during the spring of the semester before they want to take the test.