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Best Way to Prep for PSAT? Study for the SAT!

The Preliminary SAT, also known as the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is a part of the SAT suite. This test is offered annually to students in the 10th and 11th grades. You can only take the PSAT once per year.


What’s the Big Deal?

Your PSAT scores won’t get you into college or affect your GPA. But if you are a junior, a high PSAT score can make you some money! As implied by the name NMSQT, you can qualify for a scholarship if you receive a high score. Approximately $180 million dollars are awarded to students each year!


How Do I Study for the PSAT?

The smart way to do it is to combine your PSAT with your SAT prep. The two tests are almost identical. Just like the SAT, the PSAT breaks down into four sections: evidence-based reading, writing and language, no-calculator math, and calculator-allowed math. The slight difference is that the two tests have different timing; specifically, the PSAT is 15 minutes shorter than the SAT. The PSAT does not have an essay section and is scored on a different scale. But the question types and knowledge areas for both the SAT and the PSAT are the same. Thus, by prepping for the SAT, you are studying for two tests!


The Advantage of Combining your SAT and PSAT Prep

 1. Study Smart

We usually recommend that students start their prep for the SAT (or ACT) during the spring or summer before junior year. Setting the time to study in the winter break is a smart move if you are planning to take the PSAT and then the March SAT. And if you need a boost, the Insight SAT Prep Programs will help you systematically improve your scores on both the SAT and PSAT. 

READ MORE: Ready, Set, Take the Test!

 2. Feel Confident for the SAT

Because the two tests are similar, you will walk into your March SAT test knowing exactly what to expect. For the same reason, the Insight Test Prep Boot Camp includes 10 full-length practice tests, so you feel in control during the real SAT and PSAT.

 3. Time and Money Saved on Prep

Combining the two prep means you only need one set of study material. The Insight Test Prep curriculum is designed by elite tutors and test makers. By enrolling in our class, you will receive our SAT Binder designed to strategically help you excel on both the PSAT and the SAT.


Sounds Good, But What if I’m Planning to Take the ACT?

Your ACT prep also covers similar content and provides a good foundation for the PSAT. Test-taking skills, such as time-management and analytical thinking, will apply to every standardized test that you encounter. If you want to feel more confident before your PSAT, consider meeting one of our tutors for tailored PSAT strategies.

READ MORE: Should You Be Taking BOTH the SAT and the ACT?

A Summarizing View of SAT vs PSAT

This Test is Good for… Scholarship opportunity  College admissions and merit-based scholarship 
Test Structure / Time

 Reading / 60 minutes

 Writing / 35 minutes

 Math (No Calculator) / 25 minutes

 Math (Calculator) / 45 minutes

 Reading / 65 minutes

 Writing / 35 minutes

 Math (No Calculator) / 25 minutes

 Math (Calculator) / 55 minutes

 Essay (Optional) / 50 minutes

Total Exam Time  2 hours and 45 minutes

 3 hours (without essay)

 3 hours and 50 minutes (with essay)

Score Structure    320 – 1520   400 – 1600

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