The PSAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test, is administered once a year in the second week of October to high school juniors. While high school freshmen and sophomores can also take the test, they will not be considered for the National Merit Scholarship. Out of the 1,500,000 students that take this test every year, 16,000 become semifinalists. Ninety percent of the semifinalists, about 15,000, go on as finalists and 8,200 of the finalists become Merit Scholarship Winners. Winners receive certificates along with $2,500 awards. Some even receive sponsorship from companies as a result of their successes.

Finalists become National Society Members, a title they should be proud to place on their resumes. Colleges that offer sponsorships, such as NorthwesternBoston CollegeEmory, and NYU will either match or exceed the prize of other colleges.

In the United States, there are 2,600 four-year colleges. PSAT scores are a way for these colleges to get a first glance at prospective students. High scores will attract the colleges’ attention and the colleges will try their best to grab the students’ interest.

Students will receive scores from two sections: Evidence- Based Reading and Writing and Math. Both scores will be in the range of 160-760. The Evidence Based Reading and Writing Score is the combination of the Reading score and the Writing and Language score. The Math score is a combination of the Math-Without Calculator and Math-With Calculator sections.

According to CollegeBoard, the 10th grade PSAT/ NMSQT college readiness benchmark is a 360 in Evidence Based Reading and Writing and a 470 in Math. The 11th grade PSAT/ NMSQT college readiness benchmark is a 390 in Evidence Based Reading and Writing and a 500 in Math.