What is the difference between the SAT and the PSAT?

Published Thursday, January 16, 2020 by Mariah

You must have heard about the SAT as well as PSAT. They seem quite similar, but what do they really mean? What is the difference between them? Let’s learn all about them here!

Here are some of the key differences between the SAT and PSAT:


The first significant difference is the objective behind each test. The SAT is required for college admissions. The PSAT, while not required, is almost equally important because a high score can get you National Merit Scholarships or recognition as a Semi-Finalist, which looks excellent on your college application! The PSAT is a “preliminary” SAT, and is also considered a dry run for the actual SAT. 


The PSAT is only offered once during high school, in October of the junior year. You can only take the test once, although many high schools also offer a practice PSAT in October of the 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 only take the test 2 or 3 times. Some colleges will allow you to choose which scores you send with your application, but 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. The SAT exam is also considered more difficult than the PSAT. 


Another difference is the number of questions per section. The SAT takes more time to complete than the PSAT, as it has several more questions. If the essay section is skipped, the SAT is 15 minutes longer than the PSAT.


The PSAT has no essay section, whereas the SAT has an optional essay section. Many colleges now require that you complete the essay section. 

Are you in search of in-person SAT classes in the Bay Area or SAT courses online? At Excel Test, we offer SAT classes as well as PSAT prep courses to help you succeed! Your future lies in your hands, so contact us today and start your classes soon!

comments powered by Disqus