The Preliminary SAT, better known as the PSAT, is a standardized test based on but not identical to the SAT. College Board offers two different versions of the PSAT that differ based on the high school grade to which it is administered but similar in most other ways:
- PSAT questions and content are the same as SAT questions and content, although the PSAT does not include an essay.
- PSATs are administered by high schools and follow different registration processes than the SAT does.
- Colleges do not consider PSAT scores in admissions.
The PSAT/NMSQT is the version of the test administered to 11th graders and sometimes 10th graders. Schools choose from three October dates and actively register students for the test, which is a departure from the SAT or ACT.
NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Tests. The National Merit® Scholarship Program and other scholarship programs use PSAT/NMSQT scores for eligibility, but only 11th graders are eligible for National Merit Scholarship recognition. Students in the top 1% of scorers in every state qualify as semifinalists, and about half of all semifinalists go on to earn the NMS.
The PSAT 10 is the version of the test administered exclusively to 10th graders. Schools may administer the PSAT 10 almost any day from late February to late April and actively register students for the test. Some scholarship programs use PSAT 10 scores for eligibility.
The PSAT 8/9 is the version of the test administered exclusively to 8th and 9th graders. Schools may administer the PSAT 8/9 almost any day throughout the school year and actively register students for the test. Some scholarship programs use PSAT 10 scores for eligibility.