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.

Sections | Time | Number of Questions | Scoring |

Evidence-Based Reading | 60 minutes | 47 | 160-760 |

Evidence-Based Writing and Language Test | 35 minutes | 44 | |

Math | 70 minutes (25-minute no-calculator sub-section; 45-minute with-calculator sub-section) | 48 | 160-760 |

TOTAL | 2 hours and 45 minutes | 139 | 320-1520 |

## 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 Portion | Calculator Portion | ||

Time allotted | 25 minutes | Time allotted | 45 minutes |

Total questions | 17 | Total questions | 31 |

Multiple-choice questions | 13 | Multiple-choice questions | 27 |

Grid-in questions | 4 | Grid-in questions | 4 |

## What Are the Topics for the PSAT Math Test?

The syllabus for the PSAT Math Test is as follows:

Topic | Number 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:

- Attempt practice PSAT test. While doing the practice test, read the questions carefully. Better if you read the questions twice.
- Start with the questions you find easy. Then attempt the difficult questions.
- 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.
- While practicing, try to solve one question in as many different ways as possible. This will increase your confidence.
- While solving questions with variables, substitute your values to verify the answer.
- Use your common sense to give your answers. Sharpen up your reasoning skills.
- 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.
- If you cannot solve a question using a method you’ve learned, try giving an estimate for the answer.
- Eliminate the answers you think must be wrong from the answer sheet. Then make your best guess for the correct answer.

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**Citations**

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/