3 Key Changes to the New PSAT/NMSQT Test

July 24, 2014 

A student’s SAT scores are an important factor in the college admissions process. It’s important for your college-bound student to prepare for the SAT, and one way to do that is to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which is offered every October to high school juniors. The PSAT is a great tool for measuring future success on the SAT, and it is also the way students are evaluated for National Merit Scholarships.

The College Board announced earlier this year that the redesigned SAT will be administered for the first time in March 2016. To help prepare students for this redesigned test, the PSAT/NMSQT is also being revised and will be administered for the first time in October 2015.

Here are some of the main changes planned for the new PSAT/NMSQT:

Longer Testing Time

  • The new PSAT/NMSQT will have a total testing time of two hours and 45 minutes, giving students an extra 35 minutes to complete the exam.
  • Along with this extended testing time, additional questions will be added. Now, students will have 165 minutes to complete 138 questions, rather than 130 minutes to complete 125 questions.

Content Changes

  • The redesigned critical reading section will require students to focus on using evidence from the text and other sources to support answers.
  • The writing and language portion of the exam will use vocabulary words in a variety of contexts and asks students to analyze how specific words enhance sentence meanings.
  • The math section will be updated, using research that shows which areas of math are most important to college and career readiness, and a real-world approach will be used in creating questions.

Scoring Changes

  • Unlike the current exam, only correct answers will be considered in scoring the new PSAT. Previously, students received one point for each correct answer, a one-quarter point deduction for each incorrect answer, and no points for blank answers. To give students more of an incentive to put their best effort into answering every question, the College Board will no longer deduct one-quarter point for each incorrect answer.
  • Current score reports do not include subscores. However, the redesigned PSAT will include subscores in its score reports. This will provide students with more targeted information about what skills and content areas they need to work on before they take the SAT.

A+ will continue to provide you with information about changes to the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT as we get closer to the implementation of these new exams.

Remember, summer is an ideal time to get a head start on preparing for the October PSAT/NMSQT. Learn more about our test prep programs here. You can also visit the College Board website to learn more about these changes.


Contact Us


A+ Test Prep and Tutoring -- Philadelphia

505 York Road, Suite 6, Jenkintown PA 19046

A+ Test Prep and Tutoring -- Montgomeryville

593-1 Bethlehem Pike, Unit #4, Montgomeryville PA 18936