About The New Digital PSAT/NMSQT


The PSAT (Preliminary SAT), also known as the NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), is now fully digital. Let’s explore what that means for students, parents, and educators. 

Why is there a new digital PSAT?

With the SAT moving to an all-digital format this year, College Board (the nonprofit organization behind the SAT and PSAT programs) wanted to ensure that any students who would be taking the new digital SAT would have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the digital testing experience beforehand. So, they announced that the PSAT/NMSQT would also be offered in a digital and adaptive format starting in the fall of 2023.

How is the digital PSAT different? 

The new digital PSAT/NMSQT is easier to take, shorter, has more time per question, and comes with a built-in calculator. And, of course, it is completely digital—with the new PSAT administered on a digital device (laptop or tablet) through a new digital testing application called Bluebook.

However, it's important to note that these changes don't mean the new PSAT will be any less helpful in preparing students for the SAT since the new digital SAT has been similarly adjusted.

The digital PSAT/NMSQT has the same interface, structure, and question types as the digital SAT. Let's compare some key components:

  • The digital PSAT will have a total of 98 questions across two sections: (1) Reading and Writing and (2) Math, just like the digital SAT.
  • Digital PSAT test-takers have 64 minutes to complete the Reading and Writing section and 70 minutes to complete the Math section. This time exactly matches the digital SAT's 2-hour and 14-minute test time.
  • The digital PSAT is an adaptive exam, which means the modules will change in real time based on how well, or how poorly, a student is performing. The digital SAT will also be an adaptive exam.

Why should students take the PSAT? 

The digital PSAT/NMSQT is more than just good practice for the digital SAT. Here are a few ways students can benefit: 

Gain experience with adaptive testing

Students may not have experience with adaptive exams, as these are not regularly used in classrooms. Some students may get distracted—trying to analyze if their questions are getting easier or harder—increasing their test anxiety and lowering their scores. By taking the digital PSAT/NMSQT, students will be able to get a feel for how adaptive testing works and tailor their test prep accordingly. 

Establish learning targets

Students who take the digital PSAT well in advance of the digital SAT have the advantage of seeing exactly what skills and knowledge they need to focus on to improve their scores. They can then create study plans and sign up for tutoring that focuses on their critical gaps. 

Enter the National Merit Scholarship Competition

Students who take the PSAT/NMSQT, and meet other program entry requirements specified in the PSAT/NMSQT Student Guide, will be entered into the National Merit Scholarship competition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Entry into this program means they may be eligible for college scholarship opportunities.

How much does the digital PSAT cost?

The digital PSAT costs $18, but oftentimes the fees are paid by schools.

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