What is the PSAT 8/9? - Information, Structure & Scoring

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The PSAT 8/9 is the first of several similar standardized tests that culminate in the SAT. Read on to learn why you may want to take the test, how it is structured and scored, and resources to help you prepare for it.

Overview of the PSAT 8/9

The PSAT 8/9 is a standardized exam that measures students' reading, writing and math skills to help them fine-tune their high school studies and identify AP classes they may want to take in preparation for a successful college career. Like the PSAT and the SAT, the PSAT 8/9 has two sections: an evidence-based reading and writing section and a math section. The reading and writing section includes two tests, one for each subject. The entire PSAT 8/9 takes 2 hours and 35 minutes to complete, including a ten minute break.

PSAT 8/9 Structure

TestLength of TestTypes of Questions
Math Test 70 minutes 38 questions
Reading Test 60 minutes 42 questions
Writing & Language Test 35 minutes 40 questions

How the PSAT 8/9 Is Scored

The total scaled score for the PSAT 8/9 ranges from 240 to 1440. The scaled scoring range for each of the two sections is 120 to 720. As outlined below, students who take the test also receive individual scores for each of the three tests, six subscores, and two cross-test scores.

Score TypeDescriptionScoring Range
Test Scores Individual scores for the math, reading, and writing tests 6 - 36 for each
Subscores Scores for six key skills: command of evidence, words in context, expression of ideas, standard English conventions, heart of algebra, and problem solving/data analysis 1 - 15 for each
Cross-test Scores Two scores reflecting analysis of science and analysis history/social studies within the three tests 6 - 36 for each

PSAT 8/9 Test Content

The reading and writing section of the PSAT 8/9 focuses on reading comprehension, interpretation of graphics, command of evidence, and vocabulary in context. The math section emphasizes analysis of data, algebra, and problem solving. Both measure students' ability to apply the knowledge they have learned in school. So, if you are planning to take the PSAT 8/9, one of the best ways to prepare for the test's content is to review what you've already learned in your math and reading/language arts classes.

Study.com's online courses are also great tools to do just that. Each course is broken down into short video lessons, so you can review the entire subject, or focus exclusively on the concepts with which you need help.

To refresh your reading, writing and math skills in preparation for the PSAT 8/9, check out these courses:

Math Prep Resources

Reading and Writing Prep Resources

Because the PSAT 8/9 measures the same skills and knowledge as the PSAT, you may also want to review Study.com's PSAT course to understand the types of questions you may encounter on the test.

PSAT 8/9: Who, When, and Where

Students in eighth and ninth grade may take the PSAT 8/9 at their schools during either the fall or spring semester. The College Board, which oversees all PSAT and SAT exams, provides a testing window, and individual schools choose a date within that window to administer the test.

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