College Board Releases a Digital PSAT Practice Test

July 25, 2023

The College Board has recently updated their PSAT/NMSQT home page and also has released a PSAT practice test on their digital testing platform Bluebook. These updates provide more information about the PSAT and answer some important questions.

Digital PSAT Practice Test

The first digital PSAT practice test is available to all students through the College Board’s Bluebook app. The digital PSAT has the identical structure and timing as the digital SAT, so the PSAT practice test feels very similar to the four previously released SAT practice tests. 

However, similar to the past PSAT, the digital adaptive PSAT also omits some of the harder questions that are on the SAT. For the math section, these differences are highlighted in the College Board’s Assessment Framework document. Most notably questions pertaining to circles and some advanced factoring techniques are not found on the digital PSAT. 

Differences in the content and difficulty of the Reading & Writing sections on the PSAT and SAT were not discussed in the framework document; however, we have noticed that the PSAT practice test omits the most difficult vocabulary on the words-in-context reading sample. 

How to Use the PSAT Practice Test in Bluebook

Taking a practice test is an important first step to prepare for the PSAT. Once students have downloaded the Bluebook app and linked it to their College Board account, the PSAT will be an option among the selectable test types. Including breaks, the practice PSAT with standard time takes about two and half hours to complete.

In addition to providing a score and showing which questions students answered correctly and which ones they missed, the practice digital PSAT also provides explanations for each question.

New information about the National Merit Selection Index Score

For Juniors, the PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), which can lead to National Merit recognition and scholarship money. Since 2015, National Merit has used its own qualifying score that relied on the Math and the Reading and Writing subscores to calculate each student’s overall selection index score. 

Prior to the College Board update, there was some uncertainty as to how the selection index would be calculated for the digital PSAT as the digital PSAT (and digital SAT) no longer provide these subscores. 

This recent update has clarified the new selection index formula. National Merit is multiplying the student’s Reading & Writing Score by 2, adding their Math Score and then dividing it by 10. In doing this the NMSQT Selection Index will remain out of 228 possible points, which is consistent with the scores used since 2015. 

nms index score

For example, if a student scored 600 on their Reading & Writing and 650 on Math the student’s selection index score would be 185/228. If a student scored 650 on their Reading & Writing and 600 on Math, the student’s selection index score would be 190/228. 

With this formula National Merit continues to place greater weight on the Reading & Writing section as they are doubling that score before adding it to the Math section score. For any student looking to qualify for National Merit, getting familiar with the PSAT Reading & Writing section is more essential than ever. 

Other Important Information about the Digital PSAT

  • Schools can now schedule the PSAT between October 2nd and 31st, so schools have greater flexibility in when they offer it.
  • Scores will be returned before Thanksgiving. Previously, scores did not come back until early December.
  • The digital PSAT Reading & Writing and Math sections will continue to be scored on the 160 to 760 scale, so the scoring range remains 320 – 1520. As with the recent PSAT, the digital SAT will continue to be vertically aligned in its scoring with the SAT. Therefore, students can use their PSAT scores as a baseline score for the SAT, as their PSAT scores are the scores they would have gotten had they taken an SAT on that day.

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