PSAT Pattern

Exam Pattern


All about PSAT

The PSAT is commonly referred to as a “preliminary SAT,” and many students take it to get a head start on their SAT preparation. The PSAT is a standardised examination given to 11th-grade students in most high schools in the United States. In addition, the test acts as a prerequisite for students applying to the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT and SAT may appear identical at times, however the SAT asks more challenging and advanced questions and includes an optional essay. If you do not do well on the writing section of the PSAT, you will need to concentrate hard on the vocabulary and grammar sections if you are taking the SAT. The PSAT test simulates the format, question types, topic, and time limits that students would encounter on the SAT.


How long is the PSAT?

The PSAT is frequently administered throughout the school day in place of other classes. The test itself lasts approximately 3 hours, including breaks.


What are the different sections of PSAT?

You will be given a composite score, two-section scores, and a variety of subsection scores. The test itself is divided into four timed sections: Evidence-Based Reading, Writing and Language, Math (no calculator), and Math (calculator allowed).

1. Evidence-Based Reading

The PSAT Evidence-Based Reading section will assess your ability to read a passage, think critically about its main concepts and essential details, and answer questions about it. These questions will put your knowledge of evidence, words in context, and analysis in history/social studies and science to the test.
Command of evidence questions will provide you with four excerpts from the passage and ask you to choose the one that gives the best evidence supporting the previous question. Secondary word meanings will be the focus of questions about words in context.

The Reading Test contains passages from literature, history, social studies, and science. Some PSAT questions will need you to investigate hypotheses, analyse facts presented in various ways, and do other analysis based solely on what is stated or inferred in the material.

2. Writing and Language

The PSAT Writing and Language section will assess your abilities to recognise and correct grammatical problems, as well as revise words and phrases to improve content. The Standard English Conventions topic includes subjects such as verb agreement, punctuation use, and parallel construction. You’ll be tested on sentence placement and the function of transition words or phrases within the text in the Expression of Ideas category.

3. Math

On the PSAT, there are two math sections: one that allows calculator use and one that does not. There are multiple-choice questions with four answer options and short answer grid-in questions with answer options including digits 0–9, the period/decimal point (.), and the division/fraction bar (/). Some questions have two sections that are interconnected, and the information from the first part is utilised to answer the question in the second section.

Are you planning to prepare for PSAT?
Click Here to Book Your Free 1-On-1 Session with Experts

Test Format, Structure, and Types of Questions of PSAT

The students are being tested on the basis of a redesigned PSAT exam pattern. The new format also constitutes test reasoning skills focusing more on the development of knowledge and understanding, which is important for the success of any high school student.

The total duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes. The structure of the PSAT is as follows:


Section Sub Section Total Testing Time and Breakdown Number of Questions Content / Skills Covered
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Reading 60 Minutes 47 The passages on this section are taken from World or US literature, History/Social studies, Social Science and Science.
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Writing & Language 35 Minutes 44 The grammar, content, and style of the passages may contain some errors which need to be fixed through the answer choices.
Maths No Calculator 25 Minutes 17 Heart of Algebra, problem-solving and data analysis; passport to advanced math and additional math topics.
Maths Yes Calculator 45 Minutes 31 Heart of Algebra, problem-solving and data analysis; passport to advanced math and additional math topics.


How the PSAT is scored?

Each correct answer on the PSAT exam contributes one point to your overall score. Remember that there is no penalty for guessing on the PSAT, so answer every multiple-choice question, even if you have to make a guess. The raw score will then be converted to the scaled score. This scaled score will be between 160 and 760 for each section, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math (there is no essay on the PSAT). Your composite score is the sum of the scaled scores from each section, thus it will range from 320 to 1520.

The College Board, which administers the test, uses a procedure known as “equating” to ensure that the scores are scaled equitably and that there is no advantage to taking the PSAT on a specific day. This means you can compare your results to someone who took the test on a different day than you. Furthermore, the correct answer choices are spread so that answers A–D are all equally likely. It is a fallacy that answer choice C is more frequently correct than the other options.

Are you planning to prepare for PSAT?
Click Here to Book Your Free 1-On-1 Session with Experts


Planning to study abroad?
Get free 1-on-1 counselling with our experts

Manya PSAT Preparation Programs

PSAT Customized

Individualized tutoring with flexible timings

About Study Abroad

Upcoming Webinars/Events

Franchise Webinar 23 Sep 21
23 September, 2021 | 05:30 PM onwards

Acad Tut Master Classes - Physics
24 September, 2021 | 06:00 PM onwards

Study in UK 1 Oct'21
1 October, 2021 | 05:30 PM onwards

PSAT Trending Articles

SAT vs PSAT: Key Differences You Must Know

The SAT and the PSAT, both the tests are offered by the College Board, a not-for-profit ... Read More >