How Will the PSAT Change in 2015?

Current high school freshmen and sophomores will face a revised version of the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) beginning in the fall of 2015. The PSAT is an important step in preparing for the SAT (after all, it is very much like a dress rehearsal!), and its modifications reflect the significant changes that will occur on the SAT beginning in the spring of 2016.

Now more than ever, it is critical that students study for and complete the PSAT. Review the below information to ensure you do so as accurately and efficiently as possible. Here are some great things to know about the PSAT.

How will the content of the PSAT change?

The 2014 version of the PSAT includes three sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. Just like the new SAT, the 2015 PSAT will feature two primary portions—Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math.

Though sample materials are not yet available, students should expect to employ their reasoning skills quite a bit. The College Board intends to closely relate PSAT questions to the skills that students utilize in high school and will require for college success, such as analyzing history, science, and social studies passages. The new PSAT will also highlight the importance of context when identifying vocabulary, and it will incorporate the same math fields as the 2016 SAT does (e.g. advanced math, algebra, data analysis, geometry, problem-solving, and some trigonometry). 

How will the timing of the PSAT change?      

The 2015 PSAT will be 35 minutes longer than the 2014 PSAT, for a total of two hours and 45 minutes. It is important to note that the testing time is not yet final, and that The College Board may adjust it in the months to come. 

How will the scoring of the PSAT change? 

Test-takers will no longer be penalized for incorrect answers. The new PSAT will award students one point for a correct answer, while omitted questions will have no effect on test-takers’ final scores.

As is the case with timing, the PSAT scoring scale may undergo further revision as well. The current PSAT reflects an overall scale from 60 to 240, with individual section marks between 20 and 80. The 2015 PSAT will more closely mirror the SAT. The composite result will range from 400 to 1600. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math will both be marked from 200 to 800. 

The revised PSAT will also include the addition of seven subscores. These subscores will allow students and their parents, teachers, and PSAT tutors to hone in on the test-takers’ specific strengths and weaknesses in a way that the current PSAT simply cannot. 

In order to truly maximize the benefits of the PSAT—which include increased preparedness for the SAT and entry into the National Merit Scholarship competition, among others—begin your prep early. Draw upon the full spectrum of resources available to you, and monitor The College Board’s PSAT webpage for review materials. Here are some great PSAT practice tests that can help you in your studies. The College Board is expected to release practice questions in December 2014 or January 2015, while a sample exam will be available beginning in March 2015. 

Best of luck with the redesigned PSAT!