Are you looking to score a National Merit Scholarship? Then you’ll be interested to hear that the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which – as the name implies – determines eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program, is being completely revamped.
In short, as of the October this year and going forward, the new PSAT 2015 will be longer to take, will have more questions, and is increasing its coverage of all areas but particular math. On this, check out our list and review of the best PSAT prep books for the new format of the test.
The current PSAT test format of three sections – Math, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills – is being streamlined on the new PSAT to only two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. However, streamlining the sections does not alter the actual composition of the test significantly. While the pre-2015 PSAT had 38 Math questions, 48 Reading questions, and 39 Writing questions, the new PSAT reduces the number of Reading questions by one to 47 and increases the number of Writing questions slightly to 44. However, it does increase the number of Math questions by nine for a new total of 44 Math questions. Overall, test takers must now answer 138 questions whereas previously they only had to answer 125 questions.
The good news is, though, that test takers are given an average of 1.19 minutes per question under the new PSAT whereas previous test takers were given only 1.04 minutes per question. That should mean that despite the increase in question numbers, test takers should have more breathing room when answering questions in the new PSAT 2015.
The newly redesigned PSAT/NMSQT also introduces a new scoring mechanism. While previously, PSATs were scored on a scale from 60 to 240, from 2015 onwards they will be scored in a similar manner to the SAT. As a result, total scores will now fall on a range between 400 to 1600. PSAT test takers will also be scored on the two sections of the test individually on a scale of 200 to 800.
Why is PSAT/NMSQT changing?
The College Board notes that the new PSAT/NMSQT will help test takers focus on the skills and knowledge that are integral to college and career success. In its 2015 version, the test is aimed at identifying areas for student development. Finally, it is also designed to help students better prepare for the SAT (note that the SAT is changing as of 2016 as well).
Hopefully, test takers will actually benefit from the changes, in which case the College Board’s efforts would pay off.