Psat vs Sat: Overview, Differences, and Similarities

Psat vs Sat

Still trying to get a hang on the difference between PSAT vs SAT? This article has been written to help you learn the differences between PSAT vs SAT.

This article is aimed to prepare for the task ahead of you, whether it be the PSAT, the SAT, or both. It’s important to be familiar with what you’ll be doing on test day. Do take your time to read through.

What Exactly Is the PSAT?

The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) allows students to practice for the SAT. In high school, you can take the PSAT three times, but only once every year. The majority of students take the test in their junior year, while some take it as a sophomore as well.

Your PSAT results are intended to predict your SAT scores and assess your college preparation. By taking the PSAT, you will identify which areas of study should be prioritized when preparing for the SAT and will be better prepared to perform well on the SAT.

The PSAT is also used to determine eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship. Juniors who take the test must score in the top 1% to be considered for National Merit Scholarships.

Read: GMAT Syllabus 2022: Exam pattern

What Exactly Is the SAT?

The SAT is one of the most important college entrance exams for first-year students. Many college applications will request that you submit your SAT or ACT scores. Colleges utilize your exam results to determine your academic strengths and shortcomings, as well as your readiness for college-level education. The SAT also serves as a single point of comparison for institutions when comparing all applicants.

Each college will use SAT scores differently in their admissions determinations. A high SAT score is sometimes necessary for admission to Ivy League colleges and other competitive universities. Other universities might not require SAT scores at all.

The SAT might also qualify you for academic excellence scholarships. Colleges that you apply to may also provide scholarships depending on your SAT score and grades.

PSAT vs. SAT: What Are the Key Differences?

The PSAT and SAT cover similar ground in terms of the topic matter and exam structure, but they differ significantly in terms of testing frequency, scoring, cost, and difficulty.

1. The SAT is available all year

While students can take the PSAT three times in high school, it is only given once a year in October. In contrast, there is no restriction to the number of times you can take the SAT. It is also available at various periods throughout the year, including August, October, November, December, March, May, and June.

To take the SAT, you must individually register on the College Board website and will typically take the test on a weekend. Many schools also give the exam on weekdays. To take the PSAT, you must first register with your school, and you will often take the test during the school day in lieu of courses.

2. The SAT Is Harder Than the PSAT

Because it is intended to be a practice test, the PSAT is slightly less difficult than the SAT. The PSAT, as a precursor exam, will familiarize students with the SAT’s subject matter and examination methodology.

The PSAT is also a shorter test with fewer questions. The SAT lasts an additional 15 minutes.

The SAT will include more advanced subject, assuming that students will have learned more by the time they take the exam. Students who take the PSAT earlier in high school are more likely to advance academically in the years that follow.

3. The tests have varying score ranges.

The PSAT ranges from 320 to 1520, while the SAT ranges from 400 to 1600. PSAT scores directly correspond to SAT scores; thus, a 1250 on the PSAT equals a 1250 on the SAT. However, because the SAT is more difficult, a perfect PSAT score does not equal a perfect SAT score.

The PSAT is designed to predict your SAT scores, but it is not a perfect conversion. A 1460 on the PSAT may place you in the 99th percentile, yet the same score on the SAT may place you in the 96th percentile. To rank in the same percentile as you did on the PSAT, you’ll need to score roughly 50-70 points better on the SAT.

4. The SAT is more expensive

The PSAT exam costs $18, although most institutions will reimburse some of the cost. Some schools will even provide the PSAT for free to their pupils. You can inquire with your school’s guidance counselor about potential PSAT fees and waiver options.

The SAT will cost students $55 each time they take it. Fee waivers are offered for students who qualify. You will be charged a $30 late fee if you register for the SAT after the deadline. In addition, there is a $12 fee per extra report if you need to send more than four score reports to institutions. Overall, taking the SAT could cost you $100 or more.

Also Read: Is GRE easier than GMAT?

What similarities are there between the PSAT and SAT exams?

There are a number of similarities between the Psat and Sat. In this section, we are section we are going to look at some of them.

1. Content:

These two exams cover the same subjects and topics. Both contain algebra and vocab.

2. Structure:

The format of the questions does not differ significantly from one test to the next, either in terms of wording or the tasks themselves. In addition, the general structure and overall objective of testing have not changed.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math (the SAT additionally has an optional Essay component—more on that below) are the two key components of both tests. The Reading and Writing and Language Tests are included in the EBRW, whereas Math is divided into two subsections, one of which allows the use of a calculator and the other does not.

You’ll find passages on the Reading and Writing sections of both the PSAT and the SAT. You’ll answer reading comprehension questions in the Reading segment, and you’ll answer questions about how to remedy grammatical and stylistic flaws in the text in the Writing section.

Additionally, both the PSAT and SAT Math portions include both grid-in and multiple-choice problems. At the end of each section, there are grid-in questions.

3. Test scores

You’ll receive sub-scores and cross-scores for both your PSAT and SAT exams.

4. No negative marking

None of PSAT and SAT deducts extra marks from scores when you fail some of the questions. So you won’t need to bother of losing some of your correct scores.


Before you take the real thing, it’s usually a good idea to take a full-length, official practice PSAT.

If you’re using a SAT program to study for the PSAT, the good news is that you’ll almost certainly be over-prepared in terms of material knowledge and endurance. However, you should be aware of a potential temptation to over-analyze the PSAT’s slightly easier questions. You should also be aware that the PSAT does not require you to write an essay.


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