• 513-754-2240

Should Your Teen Take the *NEW* Digital PSAT

A New Era of Digital Testing

Your teen can throw away their pencil because in October 2023, the PSAT moved to a digital, adaptive test format making pencils and bubble sheets archaic just like on the revised SAT test. 

What's Changed on the PSAT?

  • It's taken on a computer with CollegeBoard's "Bluebook" app
  • The test is shorter (2 hours and 14 minutes) with more time per question
  • There's a built in Desmos Calculator (which is a helpful tool in school too!)
  • There are two sections: Reading and Writing; Math
  • Each section has two sets of questions
  • The Bluebook app has two practice PSAT tests available

What Stayed the Same for the PSAT?

  • It's still used as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship competition
  • The highest possible score is 1520 with the highest possible Selection Index Score (used for National Merit qualification) 228
  • There are still math questions that are not multiple choice
  • Content and concepts tested are very similar to the old PSAT

Who Should Take the PSAT?

Coming from LEAP, where we pride ourselves on increased ACT and SAT scores of students in our program, it may sound counter-intuitive that we advise most rising  juniors not to prep for the PSAT.  (This is not the advice we give for ACT and SAT prep!) 

See, most families who are questioning whether or not to prep for the PSAT are doing so with the National Merit Scholarship program in mind.  The bar is high to qualify as a finalist, as we talked about in an earlier post on PSAT and National Merit basics.  Essentially, finalists are the top 15,000 scorers from a pool of 1.5 million test-takers.

The odds of qualifying as a semi-finalist, an essential step in becoming a finalist, are tough.  Because we value students’ time and families’ money, we think there are essential questions to ask before deciding if PSAT test prep is for your student.

However, for students who do qualify, it is not only an honor but depending on college choice you may be heading to college FOR FREE!

Step-by-Step Guide to Decide on PSAT Testing

1.  What is the 3-year history of semi-finalist “Selection Index” qualifying scores for your state?  Take Ohio.  A three-year history shows the score range of 215 to 216. These numbers vary by state.

2.  What was my sophomore PSAT “Selection Index” score? If your student didn't take the PSAT in 10th grade, download the CollegeBoard Bluebook app and take a practice PSAT under real testing conditions: in one sitting and timed. This will give you your PSAT number. 

3.  For any prep program, what is their history of improving student scores for Nation Merit Semifinalist? LEAP's history of prepping PSAT students for 20 years indicates if a student's sophomore PSAT score is 195 or higher then with test prep they have a good chance of qualifying junior year. (NOTE: 10th grade scores can not qualify a student for NMSQT.) Essentially, we turn down students for prep who have a score below 195. We don’t have a proven track record of getting such students to qualifying scores.

4.  What is your student's availability to prep for the October PSAT? Many of the students who have a shot at qualifying are taking very rigorous junior year courses.  This means it is better to devote preparation time to the summer months.  Will you be available this summer to devote substantial time to prep and practice? Do you have time in early October to do a brief refresher on all that was gained over the summer?  If fall prep is the better option, do you have time in your busy schedule for 1:1 tutoring?  Don’t jump into prep unless you have the time and interest to devote.

5.  How will your student feel if they don’t qualify?  The problem with testing, unlike GPA, is it’s a one-day snapshot of who you are as a test taker. The best-prepared student could have an off day.  But they may just hit pay-dirt.  If you don’t hit the magic number (which you won’t know until September of your senior year), will you feel the time invested was a waste or will you know you did your best and in the end, it also helped prep you for the ACT-SAT?

In the end, make an educated decision on PSAT prep. Sophomores, don’t prep as we want a baseline score to determine if you should prep before your junior PSAT.

Think your student has what it takes? Contact LEAP to get a free individualized testing plan with no obligation to partake in the program.

Older Post
Newer Post
Close (esc)


Use this popup to embed a mailing list sign up form. Alternatively use it as a simple call to action with a link to a product or a page.

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now