College preparatory and scholarship tests provide valuable practice for college entrance exams. The most well-known is the PSAT/NMSQT® (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), which is a good practice tool for the SAT®. The ACT and CLT have preparatory exams, too: the PreACT and the CLT10.

In this post, we’ll focus on the PSAT. If you’d like to know more about the other two college prep tests, you can check out ACT’s educator webpage about the PreACT or read more about the CLT10 here.

In addition to providing practice for the SAT, the PSAT helps evaluate college readiness and determine if a student is ready for AP® (Advanced Placement) courses. It is also a qualification for National Merit Scholarships.

Content and scoring

The test has three required sections: reading, writing and language, and math. A perfect score is 1520.


The PSAT/NMSQT is offered to all 11th graders in October; 10th-grade students can take this exam for practice purposes only. Results are available online within eight weeks. Colleges never receive PSAT scores.


Contact a local public or private school four months in advance of the October test date. Some states’ laws require that the public schools allow homeschooled students to take the PSAT, while others do not. If you are an HSLDA member and a school will not accommodate your student, please contact us for assistance.

State-specific homeschool codes for the PSAT are no longer necessary.

Test preparation

The College Board offers a free PSAT practice test on its website.

The PSAT 10 (offered on specific dates between late February and late April) and PSAT 8/9 (offered on specific dates between late September and late April) can be taken as practice for the PSAT. Just like the PSAT/NMSQT, register for these tests with participating high schools at least four months in advance. (Please note that testing centers often won’t accept outside students for these exams.) Either ask the school for the official student guide, which includes a practice test, or download the practice test and answer key directly from the College Board website. Do keep in mind, these tests are not required by any colleges or scholarships, and your student doesn’t necessarily need to take every test that the College Board offers.

Links to more resources

Wondering about AP tests? Part 4 of this series will tell you what you need to know!