What is the Redesigned PSAT?

Getty Images | Chris Ryan


The Redesigned PSAT Test is a standardized pencil-and-paper test, just like the fifty you’ve taken throughout your elementary, middle and high school career. It was given an overhaul, though, and looks a bit different than the PSAT of the past. The first administration of the Redesigned PSAT takes place in October of 2015. 

When Do I Take the Redesigned PSAT Test?

You'll take the PSAT exam during your sophomore and junior years of high school.

Typically, it's administered in October on a Wednesday and again on a Saturday toward the middle of the month. If you'd like to see exact test dates, you can check out the PSAT Registration Test Dates here, but the good news is that you don't have to register for it. You guidance counselor will take care of all of that for you. Just prep and show up!

Where Do I Take It?

You'll take the PSAT exam in your school, during regular school hours. If you miss the exam, you can take it the Saturday following it, but you'll need to schedule that with your guidance counselor.

Why Do I Need To Take The PSAT?

  • National Merit: The PSAT is also called the NMSQT, or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Scoring well on the PSAT can get you a National Merit Scholarship (a.k.a. – CASH), boost that college application, and impress your mom.
  • Scholarships: Speaking of cash, you can still get some from other organizations, even if you don’t qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.
  • MyRoad: This online college and career planning guide, offered for free to students who take the PSAT, gives you all sorts of tools like a personality profile so you know which career suits you best. Use it in conjunction with My College QuickStart, another planning guide from College Board.
  • SAT Prep: Once you’ve taken the PSAT, you’ll have a better idea of what’s coming on the SAT. Think of it as a movie trailer for the big box office hit.
  • College Info: If you check yes to the Student Search Service on the PSAT, you’ll receive information from different colleges who are interested in having you apply.

What’s on the Redesigned PSAT Test?

The Redesigned PSAT looks a bit different than the former PSAT, which was last administered in October of 2014. On it, you'll see two major sections: 

  1. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: This section is divided into two subsections. 
    1. Reading Test: 5 sections, 47 multiple-choice questions, 60 minutes. 
    2. Writing and Language Test: 4 sections, 44 multiple-choice questions, 35 minutes. 
  2. Mathematics: 2 sections, 47 questions, 70 minutes. 

How Is it Different from the Redesigned SAT?

  • Structure: Redesigned SAT has 153 questions; PSAT has  138 questions
  • Length: SAT is 3 hrs. plus 50 minutes for the optional essay.; PSAT is 2 hrs. 45 minutes
  • Purpose: SAT is used for college admissions and scholarships; PSAT is used for National Merit Recognition and scholarships.
  • Scoring: SAT has a possible score of 1600; PSAT has a possible score of 1520. 

What's a Good PSAT Score?

How Is It Different from the Old PSAT?

It's very different from the PSAT of the past. If you happen to have been a sophomore in 2014 and will be a junior in 2015, then you're in for a unique experience because you'll be able to take both versions of the exam.

Here's a chart to explain the changes between the two. And there are also seven major changes that have taken place on the new exam which are worth looking into, as well. 

How Much Should I Prepare?

If your goal is to win a National Merit Scholarship, then you should invest some serious study time into the PSAT; you must score in the upper 95th – 99th percentile to even be considered. If your goal is simply SAT prep, then relax a little bit and use the PSAT as a preview for the real test. Let your final score determine which sections to focus on for the SAT.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "What is the Redesigned PSAT?" ThoughtCo, Jul. 1, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-the-redesigned-psat-3211529. Roell, Kelly. (2017, July 1). What is the Redesigned PSAT? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-redesigned-psat-3211529 Roell, Kelly. "What is the Redesigned PSAT?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-redesigned-psat-3211529 (accessed March 25, 2018).