The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is one of the most important tests a student in high school can take. As the word “preliminary” implies, the PSAT closely conforms in the areas of format and content to college admission tests like the SAT or the ACT.
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Another reason why the PSAT is important is because the National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses it as one of the criteria in awarding scholarships. The PSAT is especially helpful for diagnosing areas of strength and weakness for the future college applicant.
The PSAT is highly regarded as a predictor of success on the ACT or SAT. The scoring report of the PSAT shows the percentile scores in several categories, including reading comprehension, mathematics skills, and language arts.
Like the redesigned SAT, the PSAT now contains a writing component, in which students are given half an hour to respond to a prompt. Language abilities are tested objectively in another section of the test, as well. Sentence structure, vocabulary, and punctuation are measured through a series of multiple-choice questions.
In addition, the PSAT challenges reading comprehension and applied mathematical skills. There are 48 questions in the entire critical reading component of the PSAT. The student will be required to respond to questions in two 25-minute critical reading sections. This type of writing analysis test does not require the composition of an essay. Critical Reading Practice Test
Instead, the student must analyze paragraphs to find errors in punctuation or structure, and decide how to improve sentence or paragraph structure. There are 39 questions in the single 30-minute writing section of the PSAT. Writing Practice Test
The Math section of the PSAT has a total of 38 questions, 28 of which are in multiple-choice form. Students are permitted to use a calculator and to make memory notes for the 10 “grid-in” questions, as well as for the 28 conventional multiple-choice questions. PSAT math questions are in the areas of number operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, statistics, and probability. Math Practice Test
The test score is based on the number of correct answers, so the student is encouraged to answer the all questions, even when uncertain of the correct response.