How Long Is The PSAT (And Why)?

How Long Is The PSAT (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Approximately 3 Hours

The PSAT is a 3-hour test that measures critical reading, mathematics and writing skills. Juniors in high school take the PSAT to help prepare for the SAT. The test covers basic skills students learn in ninth and tenth grades. 

It’s designed to give students an idea of what they’ll be dealing with on the full-length test. It’s important because many universities want students who are savvy with words, proficient at mathematics, and well-rounded individuals.

This exam is used for two purposes. The first is for sorting students into college-level courses or International Baccalaureate programs, and the second is to help narrow the list of colleges being considered.

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How Long Is The PSAT?

PSAT3 hours
SAT3 hours

The test is 3 hours long. The PSAT is a shortened, practice version of the SAT taken by sophomores and juniors in high school.

The exam format is similar to the SAT, ACT, and GRE. Candidates must find information within three readings to answer questions correctly on this test. 

There are many strategies for studying for this type of exam; it is recommended that students review their strengths and weaknesses when deciding which study methods work best for them (e.g., do they learn better by reading or listening to lectures). 

Of course, regular tests like the PSAT can be an excellent way of preparing students before taking this more rigorous examination; every other Saturday morning should be devoted towards practice preparation until they’re thoroughly prepared.

It includes three sections:

  1. Verbal reasoning
  2. Mathematics 
  3. Writing and language 

The section-time allotted for each section varies from 40 minutes to 55 minutes, with 10-12 students per testing station. In total, about 3 hours are needed for the exam.

The exam’s main purpose is to help determine if one qualifies for admission in some high schools and colleges in the US. 

The PSAT standardized test can be used to show an improvement over time, so if one child is taking the PSAT every year, then incremental growth will be seen regardless of performance on that given year’s PSAT. If one takes enough PSATs, then the chances of getting into more selective schools go up.

Why Would PSAT Take So Long?

There are two main reasons test takers may have longer completion times, but they’ve never caused a “standard ” three-hour time frame. Some people experience an emergency and need to take additional time to finish the test. 

Likewise, some individuals may feel medically unsupported or experience humiliating thoughts; these feelings could lead people to stop early before their time is intentionally up. Sometimes this has led to what seems like six-hour-long sessions by accident (i.e., an individual stops before the last minute of their scheduled time slot).

Multiple factors can play into someone feeling hindered psychologically or medically; there’s no set amount of time that the average person should complete taking this type of exam in a limited time.

Psat scores are a student’s Math and English section test scores. The math section is one hour long, and the essay is another hour. After this is written down onto paper, those two sections are put together for an easy visual representation (a funnel shape). This all adds up to close to three hours.  

The students with D’s and F’s on their SATs were more likely to enroll in colleges that ranked lower academically. Enrolling at a lower-ranked college slowed down their careers. 

It led them into professions that guaranteed lower income levels than they would have received had they enrolled earlier or at a more prestigious institution.

This is why taking the PSAT exam is really important to career advancement and to get into the dream college.


More than 3 million students take the PSAT exam each year. The PSAT exam has been redesigned to assess better the new test-taking skills that students will use both in school and on future standardized tests. 

The new structure also focuses more on developing knowledge and understanding, essential for any high school student’s success.

The PSAT is a great practice exam according to many experts and useful to a student who is aiming for the National Merit Scholarship or others. If one achieves a high score on the PSAT during the 11th-grade year, they may be eligible to receive a National Merit Scholarship for college.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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