Exams Know-how

What is PSAT Exam: Format, Fees & Scoring Scale

Yocket Editorial Team

In the world of college admissions journey, standardised tests play a pivotal role. The PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, shines brightly among the constellation of exams. This article will guide you through the intricacies of the PSAT, exploring what it is, why it matters, and how to ace it.

Table of Contents

What is PSAT?

To answer the question, what is PSAT? Let us dig deep and look at the entire blog.

First, we should know the PSAT full form, and is often called the "Preliminary SAT," a standardised test designed to prepare students for the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test). It's administered by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Here, we'll delve deeper into the various aspects of this crucial examination.

What is PSAT Exam Fees?

PSAT Exam Fees depend on the grade that you are studying now. If you are in Grade 8 or 9, your fees would be 6000 INR; if you are in Grade 10 or 11, it will cost you 6500 INR.

Suggested: SAT Exam Fees in India

Purpose of the PSAT

  • Preparing for the SAT: The PSAT serves as a precursor to the SAT, helping students familiarise themselves with the format and types of questions.
  • National Merit Scholarship Qualification: When administering these tests, the College Board collaborates with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. They seek for the top pupils to provide scholarships to. The test results of junior pupils are collected and compared to those from other schools. So, your score should also be high to earn a full scholarship.

How Long is the PSAT Exam?

The SAT is important, but students who want to take the real SAT often need to remember that the PSAT Exam is an excellent way to prepare for it. Every student who wants to study abroad must take the PSAT. There are many reasons for this. Let's talk about some of them.


Time Duration

Evidence-Based Reading

60 min

Writing and Language

35 min

Math (no calculator)

25 min

Math (calculator allowed)

45 min

PSAT Exam Format

In recent years, the PSAT/NMSQT has experienced significant modifications, notably to its scoring procedures. See additional information about PSAT scoring scales.

The PSAT Exam is divided into Four parts:

PSAT Section

Total Questions

Time Duration

Reading Test


60 min

Writing and Language


35 min

Math (no calculator)


25 min

Math (calculator allowed)


45 min

The overall PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 testing period is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The PSAT does not include any experimental portions or questions without scores.

Suggested: SAT Exam Format

Section 1: Reading Assessment

All of the reading exam questions are multiple-choice with four alternative responses, and they all come from actual sections of literature. Some use graphical elements like tables and charts to present data, although mathematical expertise is not required for this section. Given that the provided readings may be applied to any inquiry, there is no need for prior understanding of the subject area. The following material is always included in the reading portion of the exam:

  • One paragraph from a work of American or international literature, either classic or modern.
  • A section on Sociology, Psychology, Economics, or another Social Science
  • Two scientific passages that look at current research and fundamental ideas in Physics, Biology, Chemistry, or Earth Science
  • One longer paragraph or two shorter sections from either a founding document of the United States or a work influenced by another country's founding document.

Section 2: The Language and Writing Assessment

Students will be tested on their ability to critically evaluate texts and identify errors on the updated Writing and Language Test. Each text-based inquiry offers a set of possible answers. There are no maths prerequisites for this section, unlike the reading exam. However, there is a chart or graph that goes along with a few of the questions. In addition, this section does not need any prior knowledge or training in any specific areas. Each question in the quiz may be answered using the information provided in this chapter. Chapters in this part include readings from a wide range of disciplines, such as the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and history.

Section 3: The Maths Exam

A calculator is now required for one component of the maths exam, but not the other. Algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, and manipulation of complex equations are the three math competencies that are most frequently employed in the majority of college degrees and careers, and they are also the competencies that both test segments lay the most emphasis on. The geometry, trigonometry, common theorems, and formula portions of the maths test will also assess pupils' understanding of these three crucial subject areas.

17 grid-in questions, the majority of which are multiple choice, make up the maths test. Students must solve the problem and type the solution in the grid on their response sheet as opposed to selecting from a pre-provided list of answers.

PSAT Scoring Scale

Seven sections make up an official PSAT/NMSQT score report:

  • Total Score (from 320 to 1520)
  • Score in evidence-based reading and writing (between 160 and 760)
  • Score in mathematics (between 160 and 760)
  • (On a scale of 1–15) Subscores
  • Cross-test Results (8-38 on a scale)
  • Selection Index of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation
  • Feedback at the Question Level

The section grade represents how well each student performed overall in the section. The Reading Test Scores and the Writing and Language Test Scores are combined to get the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score. The section scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (160-760) and Math (160-760) are combined to get the final result.

Students also get additional performance analysis through cross-test scores and subscores in addition to the two primary scoring metrics (section score and overall score). Cross-test scores, ranging from 8 to 38, assess science and history/social studies analysis. Students' proficiency in the following areas is measured by subscores, which vary from 1 to 15, including command of evidence, words in context, expression of ideas, standard English norms, algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, and readiness for advanced maths. The score report contains what is known as the NMSC Selection Index, which is used to determine eligibility for National Merit and other scholarships.

Suggested: SAT Scoring Scale

A student's Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores are added together to create this index. Each September, 50,000 top performers, as determined by the Selection Index, are informed whether they have met the requirements to be recognised by the National Merit Scholarship Programme.

Similar to the SAT, the PSAT calculates a raw score based on how many questions are successfully answered. There is no negative markings for wrong answes. The raw score is then equalised, which accounts for minute differences in test difficulty across many test administrations and dates, to provide a scaled score (160–760).

To calculate a student's overall score and determine their percentile ranking, the two scaled section scores are merged. A test-taker's performance is compared to the results of test-takers countrywide using the percentile rating. It shows the proportion of test-takers whose results were equal to or lower than the student's score.


The PSAT is not just another standardised test; it's your ticket to college success. You can confidently embark on your preparation journey by understanding its purpose, format, and significance from Yocket Counsellors.

After all, your future begins with the PSAT.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the PSAT equivalent to the SAT?

Can the PSAT exam be retaken?

How can I sign up to take the PSAT?

How significant is the PSAT for college admissions?

How could I best get ready for the PSAT?

Articles you might like