The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It's a standardized test that provides firsthand practice for the SAT®. It also gives you a chance to enter NMSC scholarship programs and gain access to college and career planning tools.
The PSAT/NMSQT measures:
- Critical reading skills
- Math problem-solving skills
- Writing skills
You have developed these skills over many years, both in and out of school. This test doesn't require you to recall specific facts from your classes.
The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are to:
- Receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
- See how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
- Enter the competition for scholarships from NMSC (grade 11).
- Help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.
- Receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service.
The SAT is a globally recognized college admission test that lets you show colleges what you know and how well you can apply that knowledge. It tests your knowledge of reading, writing and math — subjects that are taught every day in high school classrooms. Most students take the SAT during the spring of their junior year and again in the fall of their senior year of high school, and almost all colleges and universities use the SAT to make admission decisions.
The best way to get ready for the SAT is to take challenging courses, study hard, and read and write in and outside of the classroom.
Studies suggest that cramming and short-term prep can’t substitute for hard work in school, but it’s certainly a good idea for you to become familiar and comfortable with the test format and question types. That’s why the best SAT practice is the PSAT/NMSQT®, which covers the same subjects under timed conditions.
The CollegeBoard website offers lots of free practice opportunities, like the SAT Question of the Day, sample questions, and SAT practice test.
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, Reading, Math, and Science. The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 30-minute Writing portion.
ACT results are accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S.
In addition to the tests, the ACT also provides students with a unique Interest Inventory that provides valuable information for career and educational planning and a Student Profile Section that provides a comprehensive profile of your work in high school and your future plans.
ACT or SAT?
Which test should you take and why? See a comparison of SAT versus ACT.