Test Comparisons

What is the PSAT and Why Should I Take It?

The PSAT is the qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholars Program.

7,400 National Merit Scholarships of three types and approximately 1,200 Special Scholarships will be awarded every year; these 8,600 awards will have a combined value of more than $43 million. A complete list of corporate and college who participate in the National Merit Program may be found at http://nationalmerit.org/Merit_Sponser_Leaflet.pdf.

What are my Chances?

1.5 million students take the PSAT every year, about 50,000 receive some sort of National Merit recognition, such as Commended Scholar, Semi-Finalist, Finalist, or National Achievement Scholar. The top ½ of 1 percent who take the test become National Merit Scholar Finalists, the top 3% are recognized as Commended or Semi-Finalists. This is based on the high score in your state for the year, so winning scores change from year to year, winning scores in Kansas have typically been around 220.


2 hours 55 minutes

(3hours and 25 minutes with writing)


3 ½ hours including the optional 50 minute essay


2 hours 45 minutes


75 questions

45 minutes

4 choice-multiple choice

Usage/mechanics questions

Rhetorical skills questions


52 questions

65 minutes


60 minutes

47 questions

5 passages: 1 literature, 2 history/social science, 2 science

1-2 graphs

1 passage will include compare/contrast

Questions go in order that they appear in the text

Difficulty of questions is random

Multiple choice 4 answers

Text evidence and graph questions


60 questions

60 minutes

5-choice multiple choice questions



2 sections

No Calculator:

20 questions

25 minutes

With Calculator:

38 questions

55 minutes


Two sections

45minute-Calculator permitted section

27 multiple choice

4 grid-ins

25 minute-no calculator section

13 multiple choice

4 grid-ins

Emphasis on algebra and stats.

Writing (optional)

40 minutes

1 essay

Prompt given

Writing and Language:

44 questions

35 minutes

Optional 50 minute essay

Writing and Language

1 section

35 minutes long

4 passages—11 questions per passage with 44 questions total

Questions are in a random order of difficulty

Multiple choice 4 answers

Evidenced based reading with questions involving editing.


40 questions

35 minutes

4-choice multiple-choice

Comprehension and reasoning

New score is 1600

Writing and reading score will be combined for a score between 200-800 points

Math score will be scored between 200-800 points

Essay no longer impacts overall score.

Essay receives 3 different scores, ranging between 2 and 8, that grade reading analysis and writing.

Correct Answer

1 point


50 questions

35 minutes

4-choice multiple-choice

Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem solving

Unanswered Questions

0 points

Unanswered Questions

0 points

Incorrect answer to a multiple choice question NO PENALTY

Incorrect answer or unanswered questions


ASVAB Career Exploration test

Engage students in the highest quality of learning • Prepare students for responsible, productive citizenship • Inspire excellence for a lifetime
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.