College Board Releases Digital PSAT Practice Test and Additional Info

Matthew Kiesner
July 24, 2023
min read
College Board Releases Digital PSAT Practice Test and Additional Info

After a long wait and several delays, the College Board has updated the PSAT/NMSQT home page to reflect October’s Digital PSAT. They also released a PSAT practice test on their digital testing platform Bluebook. These updates give us a better understanding of what the PSAT will be like for students this Fall and answers some important questions.


Digital PSAT Practice Test

The first digital PSAT practice test is available to any student who has downloaded Bluebook.

The digital PSAT has the same structure and timing as the digital SAT, so naturally the PSAT practice test feels very similar to the four previously released SAT practice tests.

Previously, the College Board has outlined the differences between SAT and PSAT Math in their Assessment Framework document, with the PSAT omitting a few topics: most notably circles and some advanced factoring techniques.

That document did not detail any differences between the content and difficulty of the Reading & Writing sections on the PSAT and SAT. Admittedly we have a very small sample size, but the PSAT practice test does seem to lack 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. Students should schedule two and a half hours where they can take the practice test uninterrupted. Unlike official digital score reports, which have been vague, the mock digital PSAT will let you know what you got right or wrong, and will provide explanations for each question.

If you’re not sure how to make the best use of your digital PSAT practice test results, reach out to one of our program directors at 866-789-PREP (7737) or book a time to speak. Applerouth offers private PSAT tutoring packages and small group PSAT classes, and we can help you select the right choice for you!


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 many scholarships. Since 2015, National Merit has used its own qualifying score that relied on the Reading and Writing subscores. There had been a fair amount of interest around what the new scale would look like, as the digital SAT and PSAT no longer provide subscores for Reading and Writing.

Buried in the PSAT section of the College Board website is the new National Merit Section Index Score and it’s surprising:

National Merit will continue to place weight on the Reading & Writing section, doubling that score before adding it to the Math section and dividing everything by 10. This makes for a maximum score of 228, which is concordant with the scores used since 2015.

What makes the emphasis on Reading & Writing so surprising is that, in the digital redesign, the College Board put less emphasis on Writing questions in particular, eliminating several common types of questions (redundancy, tone, prepositions) and using fewer questions overall.

While the index score will allow National Merit to easily compare the state cutoff scores with previous years, it does not take into account the changes to the digital PSAT.

This index score disadvantages English-language learners and students who are strong in math compared to Reading & Writing skills. For any student looking to qualify for National Merit, getting familiar with the PSAT Reading & Writing section is more essential than ever.


Review of Important Details Already Announced

Here are some important facts about the new Digital PSAT that had already been released before the College Board updated the website.

  • Schools can schedule the PSAT between October 2nd and 31st. Some schools may choose to have different populations take it at different times.
  • Scores will be returned before Thanksgiving. Previously, scores did not come back until early December.
  • The PSAT score will continue to be out of 160 to 760 per section, with a maximum score of 1520.
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