What is the difference between the SAT and the PSAT?

Published Saturday, December 11, 2021 by Mariah

You must have heard about the SAT as well as PSAT. They seem quite similar, but what is the difference between them? 


The first significant difference is the objective behind each test. You are highly encouraged to take the SAT to prepare for college admissions. The PSAT, while not required, is significant as you may be eligible for a National Merit Scholarship or recognition as a Semi-Finalist if taken in your junior year, which looks excellent on your college application! 


The PSAT is only offered once during high school, in October of your junior year, although many high schools also offer a practice PSAT in October of your sophomore year. The SAT is offered on 7 dates each year, and it is possible to take the test up to 36 times! However, we strongly recommend that you minimize the number of times you take the exam to the best of your capabilities. Some colleges will allow you to choose specific scores to send them with your application, while some will want to see your entire score history.

Score range

The SAT scores are calculated on a scale of 400 to 1600. The scores for PSAT are calculated on a scale of 320 to 1520. 


Another difference is the number of questions per section. The SAT takes more time to complete than the PSAT, as it has more questions in each of the four sections. 

Are you in search of in-person SAT classes in the Bay Area or SAT courses online? At Excel Test, we offer SAT and PSAT prep courses to help you achieve your desired score! 

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