2022 PSAT/NMSQT Preparation Tips for Mathematics

The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is considered one of the most prestigious standardized tests in the US. It is an important test in the SAT Suite of Assessments that prepares high school students for SAT and may yield them college scholarships. If you think that any student can pass the PSAT by revisiting their textbooks, then you’re missing a key part of the story. Earning a National Merit Scholarship is no easy feat. According to 2021 records from the College Board, more than 2 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 in the 2020-2021 school year, but only 7,500 students qualified for a National Merit Scholarship, or corporate- or college-sponsored merit award. Since a large proportion of the PSAT score is based on math proficiency, we dedicate these free study tips to the math section of the PSAT/NMSQT.

What Exactly Is the PSAT/NMSQT?

The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) in the United States. The PSAT/NMSQT measures high school students’ scholastic aptitude in reading, writing, language, and math. The other tests included in the SAT Suite of Assessments are the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10, and the SAT.

Why Is the PSAT/NMSQT Important?

Apart from providing an opportunity to enter the National Merit Scholarship Program, the PSAT/NMSQT prepares students for SAT and grants them an opportunity to enter the pool of an additional $300 million in college scholarships. In addition, its score identifies the best Advanced Placement Program (AP) courses for your child.

What Skills Are Evaluated through the PSAT/NMSQT Score?

The PSAT/NMSQT comprises three major sections: Evidence-Based Reading, Evidence-Based Writing and Language Test, and Math.

SectionsTimeNumber of QuestionsScoring
Evidence-Based Reading60 minutes47160-760
Evidence-Based Writing and Language Test35 minutes44
Math70 minutes

(25-minute no-calculator sub-section; 45-minute with-calculator sub-section)

TOTAL2 hours and 45 minutes139320-1520

What Is the Structure of the Math Section of the PSAT/NMSQT?

The PSAT/NMSQT assesses the participants for their proficiency in reading, writing, language, and math within 2 hours and 45 minutes. The Math Test consists of a no-calculator portion and a calculator portion. Most of the test is based on multiple-choice questions, but some grid-in questions ask students to write their answers.

Breakdown of the PSAT Math Test

No-Calculator PortionCalculator Portion
Time allotted25 minutesTime allotted45 minutes
Total questions17Total questions31
Multiple-choice questions13Multiple-choice questions27
Grid-in questions4Grid-in questions4

What Are the Topics for the PSAT Math Test?

The syllabus for the PSAT Math Test is as follows:

TopicNumber of Questions
Heart of Algebra (Mastery of linear equations and systems)16
Problem Solving and Data Analysis (Analyzing problems and drawing information from data)16
Passport to Advanced Math (Mastery of manipulation of complex equations)14
Additional Topics in Math (Geometry and Trigonometry)2

What Math Problems Should I Practice for PSAT/NMSQT?

The PSAT test contains math problems based on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Ratio and Proportion
  • Fractions
  • Percentage
  • Units of Measurement
  • Linear equation
  • Non-linear Equation
  • Systems of equations
  • Equality and Inequality
  • Geometrical Studies (Lines, Angles, Triangles, Circles, Perimeter, Area, Volume, Circumference, Radius, Diameter)
  • Statistical Data (Mean, Median, Mode)
  • Basic Probability
  • Number Systems
  • Exponents and Roots
  • Basic Functions
  • Algebra
  • Simplifying Operations

What Is a Great PSAT/NMSQT Score?

The PSAT/NMSQT scores range from 320 to 1520 and are on the same score scale as the SAT. A PSAT score between 1210 and 1520 puts you in the top 10% of the contestants. To qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, most students need a score within the top 1% of their state.

How Can I Prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT?

If you made it through this blog, we assume you’re planning to take the next PSAT! You can prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT by following these tips:

  1. Attempt practice PSAT test. While doing the practice test, read the questions carefully. Better if you read the questions twice.
  2. Start with the questions you find easy. Then attempt the difficult questions.
  3. Put a stopwatch on your study table and track your time. Do not spend too much time solving a problem, as you will get a limited time slot (in most cases, 80 seconds) to solve a math question in the PSAT exam.
  4. While practicing, try to solve one question in as many different ways as possible. This will increase your confidence.
  5. While solving questions with variables, substitute your values to verify the answer.
  6. Use your common sense to give your answers. Sharpen up your reasoning skills.
  7. Answer all the questions even if you fear making mistakes. Making mistakes is part of learning, and you can make mistakes during your math practice.
  8. If you cannot solve a question using a method you’ve learned, try giving an estimate for the answer.
  9. Eliminate the answers you think must be wrong from the answer sheet. Then make your best guess for the correct answer.

Do you want to get your child in the marathon for the National Merit Scholarship? Don’t let them prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT alone!

Math Project is an award-winning after-school math program that can be an authentic learning partner for your child. We can help your child master math fundamentals. Call us to book a FREE consultation!

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What the PSAT Is and What to Know About the Exam – www.usnews.com
PSAT/NMSQT – https://parents.collegeboard.org/
What’s on the PSAT/NMSQT? Types of Math Tested – https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/
What’s on the PSAT/NMSQT? Calculator Use – https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt/
What’s on the PSAT/NMSQT? Grid-Ins – https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt/
What Is a Good PSAT/NMSQT Score? – https://satsuite.collegeboard.org/

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