When Is the PSAT?
- The PSAT takes place every October on a primary, Saturday, and alternate test date.
- Most schools administer the PSAT, so ask your school guidance counselor how to register.
- If you miss PSAT test day, you may be able to take it on an alternate date.
- The PSAT may include a fee depending on whether your school covers the cost.
The PSAT is both a practice SAT and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Each October, 10th and 11th graders have the opportunity to take the test through their schools. There are three national dates, and your school will decide which of those dates it will offer the test.
The exam measures college preparedness and predicts what you'd score on the SAT. Each school will have its own process for registering for the PSAT. Check with your school counselor for information on signing up.
When Do You Take the PSAT?
The PSAT is administered to high school sophomores and juniors every October, with testing only happening once per year.
In 2021, the primary test day is October 13. If offered by their school, students can also choose to take the test the following Saturday, October 16. If for some reason you are unable to attend either of these dates — or if you miss the date you're scheduled for — you may be able to take the PSAT on October 26, the alternate test day.
|PSAT Test Day||Date|
|Primary Test Day||Wednesday, October 13, 2021|
|Saturday Test Day||Saturday, October 16, 2021|
|Alternate Test Day||Tuesday, October 26, 2021|
Source: College Board
Keep in mind that each school may handle these national dates differently. Some schools, for instance, may choose to test students on only the primary test date, while others may test on both the primary and alternate dates or on all three dates.
Test scores are typically released online to students about eight weeks after the test. This year, they'll be released December 6-7, 2021.
Does Your School Offer the PSAT?
While most U.S. high schools offer and facilitate the PSAT, not every school does. You can ask your school administrators or counselor whether your school plans to offer the PSAT.
If your high school does not offer the test, you can take it at another school. Your counselor should help you with this process, but you can also find schools that are offering the test using the College Board's search tool.
Students register for the PSAT through their school, and each school has a different process. In the fall, your school should provide information on how to register for the test. Reach out to your guidance counselor for details, especially if you haven't heard anything by mid-September.
Schools are required to order PSAT tests by September 15, so they'll likely begin to plan and register students by that time.
Each 2021 test book costs $18, but students aren't always required to pay that fee. Your school may cover a portion or all of the cost for you to take the PSAT. Check with your school counselor to learn whether you'll need to pay a fee.
What Happens If You Miss the PSAT?
If you miss the PSAT, you may be able to take it on the alternate test day. If you miss all test days, you'll have to wait until the following year to take it. If you're a junior in high school and miss the PSAT, you'll have to find other ways to prepare for the SAT or ACT.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation chooses its scholars based on the PSAT. There are alternate ways to enter the scholarship program if you miss the test, but you must have extenuating circumstances and meet all program requirements.
How Many Times Can You Take the PSAT?
Students can take the PSAT up to three times in high school. You can also only take the test once per year. Even if your school offers multiple test dates, you can only sign up for one date per year. Most students take the test in 10th and/or 11th grade, but you could take it in ninth grade for extra practice.
Note, however, that ninth graders who want to get a head start on SAT prep may prefer to opt for the PSAT 8/9 or PSAT 10, which are both slightly easier versions of the PSAT/NMSQT geared toward eighth, ninth, and 10th graders, respectively.
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