PSAT Information

Sep 25, 2019 | Community Relations

Taking the PSAT in Lamar CISD: October 16, 2019 | Grades 8 - 11

The PSAT/NMSQT is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  The PSAT is a great primer for the SAT, and even the ACT, but it’s more than just a trial run. PSAT scores are used to identify National Merit Scholars and award merit  scholarships. More than 3.4 million high school students (mostly juniors and sophomores) take this nationwide, multiple-choice test every year.

Quick facts about the PSAT:

  • Frequency: 1 time/year
  • Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Sections: Math, Evidence-Based Reading & Writing
  • Cost: Fees are paid by schools
  • Max. Score: 1520

What is the PSAT and why is it important? 

Scholarships and college money

The biggest reason that students should take the PSAT is free college money! Juniors who take the PSAT during their fall semester can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation scholarship programs. This scholarship program offers awards based on academic performance and the PSAT score. When students take the exam in their junior year (and score well) they can lock in a scholarship to help pay for their college education. Some colleges even offer scholarships opportunities based on high PSAT scores.

Familiarization with the test format

Even an advanced online test prep software can’t mimic the feeling of sitting down and taking the test. Taking the PSAT can help students adjust to the test format and the real world experience of taking the SAT without the fear of scoring poorly. The more a student practices, the more comfortable they’ll be when the real test comes around. 

Potential college-level AP courses

When students receive their PSAT/NMSQT results beginning in December, the score report will let them, their teachers, and their counselors know which specific AP courses are a good match for them. Research shows that all students who take AP Exams are more likely to graduate college on time in four years. And, students who score a 3 or higher on AP Exams can save time and money by earning college credit. 

Advanced information from colleges

When students take the PSAT, they can opt in to receive information from colleges that are seeking out admission. This can help students understand their school choices and set goals for college admissions.

The PSAT test is very similar to the SAT, with a few key differences:


2 Hours long 

2-25 minute Verbal Sections

2-25 minute Math Sections

1-30 minute Writing Skills Sections



3 Hours long

1 Math Section

1 Evidence Based Reading/Writing Section

The PSAT covers all of the same question types that are on the SAT. This gives students an opportunity to practice everything they’ll need on the real test. Starting early with the PSAT can set students up for success on the real test, and help them focus their test prep.  

PSAT Info (English)

PSAT Info (Spanish)