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The New PSAT and Its Relevance to the SAT

A look at the new PSAT and why itís so useful for those who intend to give their SATs.
BY Lisa Jain |   10-06-2015
Lisa Jain
By Lisa Jain – Country Representative of India

With the SAT being redesigned in spring of 2016, the College Board has also made changes the PSAT/NMSQT, which provides excellent practice and exposure to the SAT. The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), administered worldwide in October 2015, is an important step in helping students prepare for university. Research indicates that students who take the PSAT score significantly higher in SAT.

Exam Format and Scoring

The Redesigned PSAT will be a multiple choice standardized assessment divided into 2 sections – (1) Math and (2) Evidence Based Reading and Writing, which will further be divided into different ‘tests’ - Reading and Writing & Language Tests. The exam duration will be 2 hours 45 minutes. Scores will be reported on a scale of 320–1520. For the first time, sub-scores will be provided for every test, providing added insight for students, parents, educators, and counselors. A big change from the PSAT of the past, is that points won’t be deducted for incorrect answers, just like in the new SAT.

Benefits of Taking the PSAT/NMSQT

The PSAT/NMSQT will provide the most relevant practice for SAT at roughly 1/4 the price of SAT (~$19, with schools adding a small admin fee). Students who take the PSAT get a comprehensive Score Report which has a detailed skills analysis, helping students identify their strength/weakness areas and enabling them to adopt smarter strategies while preparing for SAT and other similar exams. Additionally, students who take the PSAT also gain free access to online college and career planning resources through My College QuickStart, a portal run by the College Board.

Preparing for the PSAT

Since PSAT scores are not shared with universities, it’s a no-stress exam, and coaching is neither required nor recommended. There are many free resources available to help students familiarize themselves with the Redesigned PSAT. A complete practice test is available on the College Board website. Students can also use free SAT prep resources (due to the SAT’s close alignment with the PSAT/NMSQT) on Khan Academy’s website, since the College Board has partnered with them to provide world class test prep resources to everyone for free.

When to Take the PSAT

Students can take the Redesigned PSAT in Grade 9, 10 and 11. Many students also take the PSAT in consecutive years, since this offers them additional practice and helps them track improvement. U.S. Citizens should try and take the PSAT/NMSQT in Grade 11 even if they have taken the test before, as their 11th Grade PSAT score makes them eligible for the NMSQT scholarship.

Registering for the PSAT

The 2015 Redesigned PSAT will be administered on October 14 OR 28 by different schools. Students should contact their school’s College Guidance Counselor or PSAT Coordinator for registration information. If a student’s school is not administering the PSAT, students can also contact USIEF, or the US-India Educational Foundation, and take the Redesigned PSAT at one of their centers.

Lisa Jain is the Country Representative of The College Board in India. In her role, she works extensively with schools across India to help with the implementation of College Board programs. She also interacts directly with students and parents, educating them about how College Board’s programs and resources (such as SAT, AP, PSAT or Big Future) help in the college application and admission process.

Lisa was previously the Head of Marketing at an international school in Kolkata and has worked in the Equities division at UBS Investment Bank in London for two years.



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