Do Freshman Take the PSAT, and for What Reason? – Expert Guide

The PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), commonly known as the Preliminary SAT, is a practice test for the SAT. The PSAT is only offered once a year; many students take it in their 10th and 11th grades. Students also take the PSAT for freshmen.

An opportunity to gain a National Merit Scholarship worth $180 million is available to students who perform well on the PSAT during their junior year. The PSAT, which encompasses PSAT for freshmen, measures your aptitude in writing, math, and reading over two hours and forty-five minutes. The PSAT has a maximum score of 1520, unlike the SAT.

Although many people know the SAT, high school students and persons interested in PSAT for freshmen should also become acquainted with the PSAT or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The PSAT 8/9, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10 are the three versions of the test. Although students take these tests at various periods throughout the year, the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT are the same examinations. According to the test’s creator, the College Board, the PSAT 8/9 is a benchmark for college readiness, while the other two allow for a “check-in on student progress.”

Are You also asking, “Do freshmen take the PSAT”? This article answers your question about PSAT.

What Is the PSAT’s Value?

According to experts, there are two methods for students to assess the PSAT’s worth. The first is a route to one of the major scholarships, and the second is test preparation for the SAT, frequently used as a prerequisite for college admissions. One approach to preparing for the SAT is to take the PSAT as a practice test. If you are a freshman, PSAT for freshmen is a wonderful package to prepare for.

According to how states administer state exams, this exam may be timed for many kids for the first time, according to Kathleen Plott, director of advanced academic services at Klein Independent School District in Texas.

Unless a student is vying for a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship and one of the special scholarships, experts say, the PSAT is typically a low-stakes exam.

What Timing System Is Used for the PSAT?

The PSAT 8/9 test lasts for two hours and 25 minutes, while the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT last for two hours and 45 minutes.

According to the College Board website, the PSAT 8/9 test is divided into fifty-five minutes for reading, thirty minutes for writing and language, and 60 minutes for math. There are 42 questions or activities for reading, 40 for writing and language, and 38 for math across those sections.

They allocate 60 minutes for reading, 35 for writing and language, and 70 for math on the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT. These exam takers will encounter 48 arithmetic questions, 44 writing and language questions, and 47 reading questions or tasks.

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Do Freshmen Take The PSAT?

Several people have frequently asked, “Do freshmen take the PSAT?” In simple response, Yes, they do.

Students who plan to take the SAT exam later typically take the PSAT test in their 10th or 11th-grade year. Although taking the test can give SAT hopefuls practice, most students take it to compete for the National Merit Scholarship, which is determined by one’s performance on the PSAT.

PSAT for freshmen is always available to try.

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What PSAT Score Is Considered Good?

Experts advise students to consider their motives before striving for a specific score, whether they are doing so to prepare for the SAT or to obtain a highly sought-after scholarship.

According to College Board data for 2020–2021, the mean PSAT 8/9 score for eighth graders was 835, while it was 892 for their ninth-grade counterparts. The average PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT scores for sophomores and juniors were 959 and 1044, respectively.

The 50,000 students who are eligible for the scholarship, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp. website, are chosen using a selection index that is “calculated by doubling the total of the Reading, Writing, Language, and Math Test scores.” These candidates are ultimately reduced to National Merit Scholars and other recipients of unique scholarships.

The competition is fierce since recipients are chosen from among the highest-scoring PSAT/NMSQT test takers in each state with qualifying SAT or ACT scores.

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How to Prepare as a Freshman for the PSAT

Choosing your target scores is one of the first stages in getting ready for the PSAT, especially for an individual who wishes to take the PSAT for freshmen. What do you want to achieve? At this point in your studies, what do you desire to score?

We advise taking a timed PSAT practice test to determine this. Calculate your test score to determine where you stand and where you may improve.

With its novel ideas and difficulties, the math section may be challenging for many who wish to sit for PSAT for freshmen. You can prepare for the PSAT test by looking for practice questions and learning the language and new ideas independently or with a tutor. 

You can tailor your study strategy to suit your particular needs by identifying your areas of weaknesses and strengths.

The PSAT practice tests and sample questions provided by the test’s official administration are the most accurate. As the exams will be relatively similar, you can also use earlier SAT practice exams to prepare. Note any errors you made and questions you still need clarification on after scoring them.

The best method to make sure you respond to similar questions accurately the next time is to take the time to comprehend and remedy your errors carefully. Since the PSAT for first-year students and every other grade is a nationally recognized standardized test, even when the specifics alter, the question formats typically remain the same from test to test.

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How do I apply or register for PSAT?

Students who want to take the PSAT test must determine whether their school offers it. To take the PSAT test; if their school does not provide it, they will need to convince the administration to sign them up. If their university offers the test, students can inquire about the PSAT Registration Deadline and Test Date with the school administration.

Candidates will now also have the choice to register for the exam by paying the PSAT test price. Some organizations demand extra money for giving the test.

Depending on your grade, which PSAT should you take? 

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), frequently taken in the fall of a student’s junior year, is sometimes called the PSAT. The current PSAT, however, is a set of three exams that consider the skills a typical student will have learned via their education. The three exams in question are the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and the PSAT as mentioned earlier/NMSQT.

PSAT 8/9

The PSAT 8/9 is given to students in the 8th and 9th grades, offering them the chance to prepare for standardized tests early in their academic careers. You can take it anytime from the fall to the spring, so there is no set date.

The PSAT 8/9 is a three-core knowledge test that includes: Reading, writing and language, and math. It can take two hours and twenty-five minutes and is graded on a range of 240 to 1440. 

PSAT 10 

The PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT have the same length (2 hours and 45 minutes). It has the same number of questions (47 for reading, 44 for writing and language, and 48 for math). It also has the same scoring range (320–1520).

The main distinction between the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT is that the PSAT 10’s test material is tailored for students in the tenth grade, and it does not count toward National Merit Scholarship eligibility. Students take the PSAT 10 in the spring of their sophomore year.


The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 are almost identical—sharing the same duration, format, and scoring—except for more complex subject and the opportunity to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship.

It is only 15 questions shorter than the SAT, with five fewer questions in reading and 10 fewer in Math, takes 15 minutes less time than the essay-free SAT, and is graded on a range of 320–1520 points.

The PSAT/NMSQT is not utilized directly in college admissions, the second significant distinction between the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT. However, many institutions will take notice of a stellar performance that merits consideration for a National Merit Scholarship.

How Are PSAT Scores Calculated?

 For those who wish to take PSAT for freshmen, there is always curiosity about how PSAT scores are calculated. The PSAT 8/9 is scored on a somewhat distinct scale compared to the PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT—the PSAT 8/9 is scored on a 240-1440 scale—because its content is significantly less difficult.

The College Board, the organization in charge of administering the PSAT 8/9, divides the section scores between 6 and 36 into two scores, one for math and the other for reading, writing, and language, known as the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score, to determine a test-takers overall PSAT 8/9 score. The scaled scores will then calculate a combined rating between 240 and 1440.

The PSAT and PSAT 10 have the same scoring scales and a format comparable to the SAT, although their scoring systems differ. Student component scores in mathematics, reading, writing, and language range from 8 to 38. A scale from 160 to 760 points is used to scale the raw mathematics score.

A student’s average Reading, writing, and language score is scaled to the same 160–760 range. The sum of these scaled ratings yields a composite score that can range from 320 to 1520.

A selection committee considers students’ three-section scores on the 8-38 scale to determine if they are eligible for the National Merit. They multiply the raw score for each section by two and add the results to create the Selection Index. The Selection Index lies between 48 and 228.

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How Does Your PSAT Score Affect Your Chances of Attending College?

Although your PSAT score won’t be as important as the SAT or ACT score in college application, it still has a bearing.

Commended Student, Semifinalist, Finalist, or Scholar are significant accomplishments you can add to your Honors section on the Common App if you receive a high enough score. Writing the PSAT is a great method to prepare for the SAT. You can also get a score that will set you apart in any scenario.

What Date is the PSAT Examination?

The testing window for the PSAT/NMSQT is October 2-October 31, 2023.

Schools may test children on any day of the testing window, including testing different student groups on several days.

Additionally, schools may provide the PSAT/NMSQT on October 14, 2023, on a Saturday. Note that this is the only Saturday when the PSAT/NMSQT will be given.

Which Merit Scholarships Are Given For PSAT Scores?

Three categories make up the roughly 7,500 Merit Scholarships. The National Merit $2,500 Scholarship is the first, and high school guidance counselors and college admissions professionals choose the winners. The $2,500 prize is paid out just once.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. staff selects roughly 1,000 corporately sponsored merit and special scholarships. The value and length of the award varies by corporate sponsor and can reach $10,000 per year. The other 4,000 merit-based college scholarships are renewable. Individual universities award them and range in value from $500 to $2,000 annually.

PSAT eligibility requirements

For the PSAT, undergraduate students may apply. You can find PSAT for freshmen if you wish to sit for it. The exam is offered to students once a year. 

You can take the test in the 10th and 11th grades because students who score well enough in their junior year are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. 

The following are often the Reasons freshmen choose the PSAT tests: 

  • To get information and feedback about areas where the student can show growth. The student strengthens their weaknesses and prepare for admission to the college of their choice.
  • To compete for NMSC scholarships.
  • To learn how to prepare for the SAT efficiently and understand what to expect from the SAT exam.

Cost of Taking PSAT

The test is $18. The cost of taking the PSAT also cuts across PSAT for freshmen. You must pay the PSAT fee to the school administering the exam. The schools may cover the sum the student must pay, making it quite modest.

Other colleges might charge more to provide the test on their campus. For further details on this, kindly get in touch with your school. Students in the eleventh grade from low-income homes can also use the fee waiver facility. However, the student must request this through the school’s guidance counselor or administrative divisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should a freshman prepare for the PSAT?

It is highly advised that you take the PSAT for freshmen as soon as possible. It’s beneficial to take the test as soon as possible to prepare for your junior year exam. Your chances of receiving scholarships are at their highest during this time, and you’ll also get valuable SAT prep.

Is a PSAT score of 1250 acceptable for a freshman?

The goal scores will be lower than in 10th or 11th grade because the PSAT is taken early in the freshman year. Despite not being the highest score, it is still outstanding because it is in the 90th percentile.

 Is a PSAT score of 1200 acceptable for a freshman?

Anything regarded as decent is anything over the 75th percentile. As a freshman, 1200 on the PSAT is a respectable score. An outstanding composite score is higher than 1170.

What PSAT score is necessary to apply to Harvard?

To be on pace for those SAT scores, students would need to achieve a near-perfect score on the PSAT, which is a little shorter and more accessible than the SAT. For kids wanting to attend “Ivy Plus” institutions like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, and Duke, a good PSAT score would be at least 1450.


We have discussed many queries and the facts on a good PSAT score for a freshman and the required percentiles for a score even higher than the average one.

We hope this article answers your question, “Do freshmen take the PSAT?”

It’s your turn now! If you want to be the best:

  1. Make the most of this knowledge and these suggestions.
  2. Remember that time is your biggest ally as a freshman.
  3. Use it wisely to study, practice, improve, and accomplish your predicted PSAT score objective.
  4. Let your PSAT score talk for itself.



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