The PSAT/NMSQT is offered once each year in the month of October. Students sign up for the PSAT/NMSQT at their local high school or at another high school in their community. This test is administered by high schools, not through the College Board's national testing centers. Online registration for the PSAT/NMSQT is not available. The test is designed for Juniors, but may be taken by lower grade levels if they feel ready. Please review the information below to help with that decision.

The PSAT/NMSQT for 2019 - 2020 will be administered at CHS on October 16, 2019.

Check back in the fall of 2019 for registration information. All registrations for the OPHS administration of the PSAT will be done at the OPHS Student Store.

So who should be taking the PSAT/NMSQT?

The PSAT/NMSQT was originally created as a "practice" test to be taken by Juniors in the fall of the 11th-grade year in preparation for taking the "real" SAT in the Spring. The PSAT's Score Report Plus is designed to help students determine their strengths and weaknesses by providing personalized feedback on academic skills and to help them determine what subjects to focus their preparation on for the "real" SAT - also known as the SAT Reasoning Test. Although the PSAT/NMSQT is based on curriculum that most high school students have taken through the beginning of their junior year - at Carpinteria High School we have many 10th and even 9th grade students who are already pursuing advanced curriculum in mathematics (i.e. Algebra II or higher), along with Honors and/or AP Science, English and History courses. For these advanced students taking the PSAT in the 9th and 10th grades simply provides them valuable test-taking practice and a very concrete way of tracking their academic growth over time.

The Redesigned PSAT/NMSQT is aligned with the redesigned SAT and was launched in October 2015. Like the SAT, the redesigned PSAT/NMSQT will measure the skills and knowledge that are essential for college readiness and success.

About the Redesigned PSAT/NMSQT

The PSAT/NMSQT is an important part of the College Board’s effort to deliver opportunity to all students. The redesigned exam will:

  • Support college readiness and success for all students, with a clear focus on the skills and knowledge that matter most for college success.
  • Encourage students to take full advantage of the opportunities they’ve earned through their hard work.

Fewer than half of the students who take the SAT are college ready. The redesigned PSAT/NMSQT will provide educators with an early opportunity to:

  • Measure and follow student performance.
  • Pinpoint areas for development.
  • Prepare students for the redesigned SAT.

Overview Comparison: Former and Redesigned PSAT/NMSQT:

This high-level comparison between the former and redesigned PSAT/NMSQT highlights major design features of the two exams. The first table provides a comparison of the major features, the second table provides a comparison by test, and the third table compares the score components. It is important to note that while the information in these tables represents our best understanding of the nature and features of the redesign, some specific elements, such as timing, length, and reported scores, are subject to revision based on ongoing research. For even more information about the Redesigned PSAT go to:

CategoryFormer PSAT/NMSQTRedesigned PSAT/NMSQT

Total Testing Time*

*Subject to research

2 hours and 10 minutes

2 hours and 45 minutes


  1. Critical Reading
  2. Writing
  3. Mathematics
  4. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing
    • Reading Test
    • Writing and Language Test
  5. Math

Important Features

  • Emphasis on general reasoning skills
  • Emphasis on vocabulary, often in limited contexts
  • Complex scoring (a point for a correct answer and a deduction for an incorrect answer; blank responses have no impact on scores)
  • Continued emphasis on reasoning alongside a clearer, stronger focus on the knowledge, skills, and understandings most important for college and career readiness and success
  • Greater emphasis on the meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact
  • Rights-only scoring (a point for a correct answer but no deduction for an incorrect answer; blank responses have no impact on scores)

Score Reporting*

*Subject to research

  • Scale ranging from 60 to 240
  • Scale ranging from 20 to 80 for Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing
  • Some scores will be reported on the same scale used for the SAT: this scale ranges from 400 to 1600 for the composite score, 200-800 for two area scores, and 10-40 for test scores

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC conducts two privately financed annual competitions for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships — the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievements Scholarship Program. Through the National Merit Program, NMSC also conducts competitions for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporate and business organizations. High school students who meet published entry/participation requirements enter these competitions by taking the Preliminary SAT as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (e.g. NMSQT ® ), as juniors. Each year's test is the entry vehicle to a specific annual competition. As co-sponsor of the test, NMSC receives the scores of all students who take the PSAT/NMSQT. Selection Index scores (verbal + math + writing skills scores) of students who meet NMSC program entry requirements are used to designate high scorers to receive recognition. In both the Merit Scholarship® and Achievement Scholarship® competitions, students who qualify as Semifinalists, and then meet academic and other standards to advance to the Finalist level, are considered for scholarships. NMSC identifies candidates and sends scholarship applications to them through their high schools. For more information about the PSAT/NMSQT and NMSC scholarship programs click on the links above, or go to the national merit at the following hyperlink:

For more information about the new UC Policy with respect to the National Merit Scholarship Program click here: UC & National Merit link.