The PSAT is Coming


Siri Kunuthur, Reporter

On Wednesday, October 13, freshmen, sophomores, and juniors will be taking the PSAT test. Some wonder if the PSAT is necessary, and others, who might be more ambitious, wonder how they can prepare. 

The PSAT is used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship and is usually taken as a practice test or knowledge indicator before the SAT. In the state of Virginia, The PSAT is entirely optional, but students are encouraged to participate for practice. The sophomores and juniors will be taking the PSAT/NMSQT while the freshman will be taking the 8/9 PSAT. The PSAT 8/9 lasts for 2 hours and 25 minutes; however, the PSAT/NMSQT lasts for 2 hours and 45 minutes – 60 minutes for math, 55 minutes for reading, and 30 minutes for language and writing – with two breaks in between. The math section is further divided into two sections: a 45-minute calculator-optional section and a 25-minute no-calculator section. Each section of the test is graded on a scale of 8-38 points, adding up to 320-1520 points for a final score. In Virginia, the index score must be 221 or higher to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship. 

“I feel like I’m prepared.. I took a course over the summer and am using these materials to [get myself ready],” said Savir Potru, sophomore. Many students may feel unprepared or stressed, but there are numerous ways to study for the PSAT. has many prep books available- including the prestigious Barron’s and Princeton Review volumes. Courses can also be popular for a number of reasons. They can provide materials and work to help students get the specific help they need. 

“[I don’t think I] am prepared for the PSAT. I have a [study guide], which I will go through closer to the [test date]. I think the PSAT is necessary to show the freshmen students what they will be tested on [later when they take the actual] SAT,” stated Nevie Billis, freshman. Although it is hard to know what the right level of readiness looks like, there is an old adage that states ‘practice makes perfect.’ Many who score well have taken 10, 15, and even 20 practice tests, and others wait until a week or two before the big day to crack open a book. Anika Mahuli, a freshman, said “I don’t feel prepared for the PSAT. Closer to the date, I’ll start studying vocab and [using] Quizlet.” 

If a student is unexpectedly sick or can’t make it to the test, they may contact Marsha Brinkley ([email protected]). Cell phones and smart watches must be turned off and are not permitted into the testing room. Students are also not allowed to eat during the test. If a student is caught on a device or eating during the test, their testing will be halted, and they will be dismissed. During the test, there will be two scheduled breaks in which students may drink water, eat away from the room, stretch, or use the bathroom.

On the morning of the test date, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and wear comfy clothes. Remember to bring a number 2 pencil and a TI-84 graphing calculator, as the school will not provide these items. Good luck students!