What to Expect on the PSAT

Breaking down the PSAT with tips for each section.

What to Expect on the PSAT
The PSAT is a buzzword every October, but it’s not something students should stress about. Check out these tips for what to expect to ensure every high schooler is ready to perform to the best of their abilities.


Test Structure 

Reading: 60 minutes

  • 5 passages
  • 47 total questions

Writing and Language: 35 minutes

  • 4 passages
  • 44 total questions

Math – No Calculator: 25 minutes

  • 17 questions
  • #1–13 Multiple Choice, #14–17 grid in

Math – Calculator: 45 minutes

  • 31 questions
  • #1–27 Multiple Choice, #28–31 grid in


Reading Strategies

  • Read the passage: underline or jot down the main idea of each paragraph as you read
  • Think about the passage’s structure, argument (main idea) and tone
  • Go back to the passage for context when answering questions


Writing and Language Strategies

  • Read the whole sentence to understand the structure 
  • Look for the simplest, clearest answer that does what the question asks
  • Go back to the passage for context on questions that ask about the meaning


Math Strategies

  • Get your pencil moving! Mark key information and write any relevant formulas
  • Make sure you know what the question is asking
  • Show your work so that you can spot any potential errors


Test Day Tips

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before (and the few days before too!)
  • Fill in every bubble: remember, there is no guessing penalty
  • Get your supplies ready. Make sure you have number 2 pencils with good erasers. Pack extra calculator batteries or make sure your calculator is charged.
Good luck! We are cheering you on! We are always here to help—feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about the PSAT.