Preliminary SAT / NMSQT


The term Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test refers to an examination that allows students to practice for the Scholastic Assessment Test.  The Preliminary SAT / NMSQT also provides students with the opportunity to apply for scholarships as well as gain access to college planning tools.

The PSAT / NMSQT tests the student's critical reading and writing skills as well as their knowledge of mathematics, with scores that range from 60 to 240.


The Preliminary SAT / NMSQT is an examination taken by students preparing for the SAT.  While the test is normally taken by sophomores, juniors as well as 7th and 8th graders may also take the examination.  The test is administered in October, typically in the student's high school.  Reports are mailed to the student's high school mid-December, or in about eight weeks.  Online reports are available in the same timeframe.

The test consists of three sections and students have approximately two hours and 10 minutes to complete the entire multiple choice examination, including:

  • Critical Reading: tests the student's critical reading skills as well as their ability to complete sentences (two 25-minute sections, 48 questions).
  • Mathematics: contains subject areas such as numbers and operations, algebra and functions, geometry, statistics and probabilities (two 25-minute sections, 38 questions).
  • Writing Skills: tests the student's ability to identify sentence errors (usage and structure), as well as improve sentences and paragraphs (30 minutes, 39 questions).

Raw scores are converted to a scale that ranges from a low of 60 to a high of 240, which is 1/10th of the SAT scale.  Percentile scores are also calculated and provided to test-takers.  Generally, a score of around 45 in a section would be just above the national average score for sophomores, while the average for juniors would be closer to 55.

Related Terms

master's degree, doctoral degree, Latin honors, dissertationSAT ACT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE, MCATMAT, DAT, PCAT, OAT, AP Exam, USMLE, COMLEX, NCLEX