What is the PSAT?

    The Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT / NMSQT) - often shortened to PSAT - is a standardized test targeting 10th and 11th graders in the United States.  Every year, approximately 3.5 million students take the PSAT.  The PSAT is developed by the CollegeBoard and co-sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.



    Why do students take the PSAT?

    10th and 11th graders take the PSAT primarily for the following three reasons:

    To practice for the SAT: One of the most common reasons students take the PSAT is to get familiar with the layout and content of the SAT, which is often required for college admission. The PSAT provides students with the opportunity to get a feel for the SAT, and helps them identify potential strengths and weaknesses.

    To secure a National Merit distinction or scholarship: The other major reason students take the PSAT is to try to win a National Merit scholarship. Each year about 1.6 million juniors enter the National Merit competition via the PSAT and, In the end, 7,500 entrants will each win a $2,500 scholarship along with the (extremely prestigious) distinction of National Merit Scholar.  National Merit Scholarship Corporation



    Why is your 8th grader being offered the opportunity to take the PSAT?  

    Every 8th-grade student in Horry County Schools is given the opportunity to take the PSAT/NMSQT.   Taking the PSAT/NMSQT assessment in 8th-grade is meant to provide students an opportunity for early exposure to the PSAT and a chance to see what it is like to take the SAT.  We understand that taking the PSAT/NMSQT in 8th grade is not always academically appropriate for every student.  For this reason, this test is not mandatory, and students have the ability to 'Opt-out' of taking the test.  Please keep in mind, however; that the South Carolina State Department of Education identifies South Carolina Junior Scholars based on their PSAT/NMSQT performance and PSAT scores may be used as criteria for Scholars Academy, an HCS Program High School.  All students will be given the opportunity to take the PSAT/NMSQT again in 10th grade.  

    SC Junior Scholars Program

    Scholars Academy



    When and Where is the PSAT?

    The PSAT is administered every autumn, usually starting in early or mid-October. The CollegeBoard determines the dates that schools can choose from to administer the PSAT, usually designating a primary date, Saturday date, and an alternate date.  By far, the vast majority of schools around the nation hold the PSAT on the primary date. 



    What Does the PSAT Cover?

    The PSAT is extremely similar to the SAT in both form and content.

    There are three sections on the PSAT: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. 

    Most questions on the PSAT are multiple-choice. The only exceptions are the Math section's grid-in section.


     If you would like more information about the CollegeBoard and PSAT, please visit the following:  CollegeBoard / PSAT