The SAT is a standardized exam essential for college admissions in the United States that attempts to assess the competency of a student. Along with high school grade point average, the test is used to measure the readiness of a student to succeed in college. The SAT helps college admission committees to standardize students’ secondary school records, providing a better indicator of where a student stands relative to other competing applicants. For almost all universities in the United States, the SAT (or ACT) is required for admission.
The PSAT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test used to determine a student’s eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students must register for the PSAT through high schools that are members of the College Board. The exam is comparable to the SAT, but is moderately shorter in length and does not contain the essay.
Typically, the SAT is taken by high school juniors and seniors, while the PSAT is taken by sophomores and juniors. Both exams consist of four major sections: a Reading Test, a Writing and Language Test, a No-Calculator Math Test, and a Calculator Math Test. The Reading and Writing and Language Tests make up an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score ranging from 200 to 800 (160 to 760 for the PSAT). The total SAT or PSAT score is calculated by summing up the two scores.