PSAT Image #2A new school year is slowly creeping upon us and MathSP is gearing up to coach students to the new changes for various standardized tests. If you’re graduating in 2017 and after, you’ll be taking the redesigned version of the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) starting in October 2015. It’s important that you become aware of the changes taking place and understand how test preparation coaching will continue to support students in mastering these changes.




Here’s a list of the changes and what they mean for your test prep:


The redesigned PSAT will be 35 minutes longer than the current version. At 2 hours and 45 minutes compared to the previous version of 2 hours and 10 minutes, students will have to train their focus in order to answer questions correctly while maximizing the allotted time. Additionally, students will have 4 multiple-choice answers instead of 5, resulting in a higher probability of getting the right answer if you guess. MathSP will prepare you on how to answer each question with confidence so guessing won’t apply to you!

The following chart outlines the time and number of questions per section:


Time Allotted

Number of Questions

Avg. Time per Question


1 hr 10 min


~ 1 min 28 sec


1 hr


~ 1 min 16 sec


35 min


~ 47 sec


2 hrs 45 min


The new PSAT is tightly aligned with the redesigned Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) so students will be less apprehensive when taking the SAT, as the formats are now closely similar. With the exception of the essay section, both tests now share similar content, format and scoring.


The new PSAT will be reported on a shared common score scale with the SAT. The scale ranges are 320-1520 for the total score, 160-760 for each of two section scores and 8-38 for test scores. Student score reports will still provide subscores for each of the three sections to help pinpoint where strengths and weaknesses lie.

Furthermore, there are no longer penalties for wrong answers. The redesigned version adapts rights-scoring only, which means students receive a point for the correct answer but no deductions for wrong answers. With this change, students no longer have to develop a game plan to determine which questions to make a guess on and which ones to leave blank. Even if unsure, make a likely guess on questions since the odds are greater in choosing the correct answer.


You’ll be surprised to learn that the content on the redesigned PSAT will generally mimic the current test version. What has changed is HOW the concepts are tested and the steps students must take in order to solve problems correctly. Simply put, the content is more evidence and context-based. Greater emphasis is placed on meaning of words in extended contexts and on how word choice shapes meaning, tone and impact. Students are no longer required to memorize a laundry list of words they may never use in real life.

There is also a clearer, stronger focus on knowledge and skills that current research shows is paramount for college and career success. Math questions will include more problem-solving, data analysis & algebraic linear equations and less emphasis on geometry. As a result, students will need to strengthen their skills in the areas of problem-solving, data interpretation and word connotation. Because these areas align with what students are currently learning in class, they’re ability to further develop these skills are greater than ever before.

Remember the 4P’s: Plan, Prepare, Practice and Perform. Students can stay one step ahead by taking advantage of the PSAT practice test available here. Once they’ve finished the test, use the answer explanation PDF here to review answers, read explanations and learn from mistakes.

MathSP’s expert Test Prep Coaches can help you achieve your target score on the redesigned PSAT.

Learn more about our PSAT Bridge Program and how it can provide the confidence needed to achieve your highest score.