picture of laptop being used to take the digital sat

The New Digital PSAT: Take a Practice Test Before the Official PSAT in October

August 17, 2023

The College Board is transitioning to its new digital adaptive SAT in March of 2024, and the current paper-based SAT will no longer be offered. To help students prepare for this new test, the PSAT/NMSQT test this fall will have the same new digital adaptive format and structure.

PSAT tests are practice tests designed to give students exposure to the types of questions that they will see on the official SAT. Colleges do not see PSAT scores and do not make admissions decisions based on PSAT scores.The PSAT test for juniors is still being used for National Merit so there is some scholarship money that students can earn if they qualify. The National Merit Scholarship is very competitive, however, and less than 1% of students who take the PSAT/NMSQT will be honored.

For these reasons, we historically advised students not to worry about preparing for the PSAT; instead, we suggested thinking of it solely as a practice test to get familiar with the types of questions and also to get a starting baseline score. The exception was high scoring students who felt that they had a chance to be named a National Merit semifinalist/finalist. For these students, we typically recommended some practice so they went into the test confident and prepared.

This fall, with the introduction of the new digital PSAT, we are changing this recommendation and advising that all students take a digital practice PSAT before their official PSAT in October.  There are three reasons for this recommendation. 

1. Students should familiarize themselves with the digital platform

The first reason we recommend students take a digital PSAT practice test is to familiarize themselves with the platform and its features. This way students will be more comfortable and not have to spend valuable time getting themselves oriented at the start of the official PSAT. Students always get nervous before an official test. Knowing what to expect on test day can help calm their nerves to ensure that their PSAT score is a truer baseline score and more reflective of what they are capable of.

2. Students should test out their personal device

The second reason is that, for both the digital PSAT and SAT, students can use their own personal devices to take the test. Taking a digital practice PSAT before the official practice test gives students the chance to test drive their device to ensure that they can successfully navigate the test on that device. We want students to encounter any system issues that they might have prior to test day and not have to troubleshoot on the official PSAT test day.

3. Students benefit from a detailed score report

The third reason to take the practice PSAT is for the detailed score report that they will receive. The score report shows every question that they answered correctly and every question that they missed.

This deeper analysis is how students can use the PSAT to help identify their strengths and also their weaknesses—those areas that they want to focus on and improve on before potentially taking the new digital SAT in the spring.

Historically, the PSAT provided this level of detail in their score report and students could use it to develop a good road map for their testing plan moving forward. The new digital PSAT score report is not going to provide this level of detail. Students will get their scores, but only a very rudimentary breakdown of how they did on the different types of questions, which will make identifying specific strengths and weaknesses incredibly challenging.

With our practice PSAT, students will receive the itemized score report and better see how they performed on the different question types to help them moving forward.

How Summit can help

We offer a free digital adaptive PSAT practice test through our digital testing platform that closely mimics the look and feel of the official digital PSAT that is coming this fall. Students can take it online and at any time by clicking here.

Please reach out to us at info@mytutor.com or 1-800-MY-TUTOR to schedule a free practice test so your student will know what to expect on their school’s PSAT testing day.