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Changes to Preliminary SAT Set For 2015

This month is the last time high school students will take the PSAT/NMSQT in its current version.

The College Board is rolling out a new Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the fall of 2015 and a redesigned SAT in the spring of 2016.

The new PSAT/NMSQT will be 35 minutes longer (2 hours and 45 minutes total), include evidence-based reading and writing questions, and have a greater emphasis on the meaning of words in an extended context.  Just as the SAT is switching to rights-only scoring, the PSAT/NMSQT also will give credits only for correct answers in the future.

(On the College Board website, there is a side-by-side comparison of the current and redesigned test. Test specifications for the SAT and PSAT for math, writing and language, and reading also are posted.)

Last year, 1.6 million juniors and 1.7 million sophomores in U.S. high schools took the PSAT/NMSQT. Students did best in the math section, followed by critical reading and writing. Performance was down slightly from the previous year, according to the College Board's summary report.

The test will be offered on Oct. 15 and Oct. 18 in 2014. Cost of the exam is $14. Fee waivers can be requested for 11th grade students.

To prepare for this year's test, College Board has information and free practice exams on the main PSAT/NMSQT page. For students taking the new exam next fall, College Board officials anticipate sample questions will be available in December or January. A full practice test is expected out by March.

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