During the Test
Procedures to follow during the PSAT/NMSQT administration
During the test please follow the steps below as you administer the PSAT/NMSQT.
Distributing test materials to students
- Remove the test materials from the plastic bags and give one test book and one answer sheet to each student. Keep one answer sheet and one test book for use in giving instructions.
- Make sure that no one opens a test book until told to do so.
- Allow enough time for students to read the information on the front cover.
- To facilitate return of test books with score reports in December:
- Have students put additional information (e.g., homeroom) under their name on the test book cover.
- If you are testing students from other schools, ask them to write their school name below their name on the test book.
- Ask homeschooled students to write their address below their name.
Student information requested on the answer sheet
The PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet asks students about their:
- Grade average for all academic subjects
- Racial/ethnic group
- Language background
- Desire to participate in Student Search Service® (SSS®)
- College major
Some of the information that students provide will help the College Board ensure that tests are fair for all groups. Some of it can help colleges, universities, nonprofit educational opportunity organizations, and some scholarship programs provide relevant information for college planning.
The section on the answer sheet marked "Questions to Determine Entry to National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) Programs" must be completed in order for NMSC to determine if students meet requirements to enter its scholarship programs.
Reading the script
- Read aloud all the directions printed in bold within the boxes.
- Read slowly enough to give students time to fill in their identifying information. Pause wherever four dots appear to allow students time to follow instructions.
- Instructions outside boxes are for you and your assistants and should not be read aloud. Do not deviate from these directions or answer any questions regarding the content of the test.
For a full description of calculator use please visit our acceptable calculator page in the student section of this website. These points serve as additional reminders:
- Although each math question can be answered without a calculator, a scientific or graphing calculator is permitted and recommended.
- Sharing calculators is not permitted.
- Calculators with QWERTY (typewriter-like) keypads, with paper tape, that make noise or "talk," or that require an electrical outlet are prohibited.
- Students can be dismissed from the test and their scores can be canceled if they use prohibited calculators.
- To maintain security, you may need to move students whose calculators have large (characters of 1 inch or more) or raised displays that might be visible to other test-takers.
During the test
Walk around the room frequently to make sure that all students are:
- Working on the correct section of the test
- Marking answers in the appropriate section of the answer sheet
- Using calculators on math sections only
Be alert and attentive at all times while students are testing and during breaks. Do not read, grade papers, or perform any other activity not directly related to administering the test.
There will be a 5-minute break after Section 2 and a short 1-minute stretch break after Section 4. Cell phones must remain turned off during breaks.
During the 5-minute break, students may go to the restroom, but under no circumstances should large groups of test-takers be allowed to leave the room.
During the break, ensure that students do not:
- Leave the test room without permission
- Remove test materials from the room
- Look at the test
- Use a telephone
- Refer to unauthorized aids
Proctors should monitor restrooms and halls, but should not leave a test room or test materials unattended.