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The PSAT and the SAT both have two major components:


1) Reading + Writing & Language
2) Math

The order of sections on the SAT is always: Reading, Writing & Language, Math (no calculator), Math (with calculator). On both the PSAT and the SAT tests, the Reading and Writing & Language components are scored separately (100–400), but are then combined into a single 200–800 scaled score. The PSAT scale for English and Math are each 160–760. The SAT English and Math scales are both 200–800.

PSAT and SAT Reading

The new SAT Reading Test has four single passages and one set of paired passages. Each passage or pair is 500–750 words in length and is accompanied by 10–11 questions. There are a total of 52 questions, and students have 65 minutes to finish. There are four distinct groupings (and several subgroupings) of question types that may be best understood with the acronym


V = Vocabulary (Vocabulary in Context)
E = Evidence (Command of Evidence)
G = Graphics (Graphical Analysis)
A = Analysis (Specific Content Analysis)
PSAT and SAT Writing and Language

The SAT Writing and Language Test requires students to:

  • Select the most concise and/or accurate phrase or sentence to express a thought or opinion
  • Select the most apt description of a person, situation, or action
  • Reorganize, replace, or remove words within a sentence, or sentences within a paragraph
  • Identify appropriate conjunctions and logical connections between sentences and paragraphs
  • Identify agreeing parts of sentences—tense, mood, amount, and modifiers
Identify incorrect or unnecessary words, sentences, or clauses
  • Identify correct punctuation, including possessive cases, and overall passage structure

PSAT and SAT Math

The SAT Math Test incorporates a limited variety of question types and subjects. While most math falls into the algebra and data categories, many questions involve “real life” situations that require a thorough understanding of the concept being tested and the equation that best expresses the solution. “Passport to Advanced Math” and “Additional Topics in Math” questions require some familiarity with geometry and some limited understanding of trigonometry (SOHCAHTOA). The PSAT has a lower level of difficulty.