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How do I register for the PSAT?

Published June 11, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    The PSAT is a primer test for the SAT and ACT standardized tests that many colleges and universities require applicants to take. Typically, students take the PSAT in their sophomore or junior year of high school to prepare for the SAT or ACT.

    The PSAT can greatly help students who want to practice for the SAT or ACT to better understand how these tests work. Because of that, some students take the PSAT twice, once in their sophomore year and again in their junior year.

    While not sent to colleges, the score determines National Merit Scholarship Program awardees. The National Merit Scholarship awards merit-based scholarships to top-performing students.

    How do I register for the PSAT?

    Students register for the PSAT at their high school. Some high schools provide an online registration tool or ask that students sign-up in person. To learn more about signing up for the PSAT, including information about test dates and locations, reach out to the administrative office at your high school. You'll want to start the registration process at least a few months before the test date, which is generally in October.

    Common questions about the PSAT

    Can I take the PSAT online?

    Yes, all PSAT exams are administered digitally, to help students prepare for taking the SAT and ACT exams in this format. Either your school will provide computers or laptops for students to use, or you may be able to bring your own device and will be asked to download an app to take the PSAT exam.

    What do I need for the PSAT?

    Beyond preparing for the test via studying, there are a few things you'll want to bring on test day.

    Here's a list of what you may need for the PSAT:

    • A fully charged device and a power cord/portable charger (if you are required to bring your own device for the test).
    • An external mouse and keyboard if you use one for your personal device (external keyboards are only allowed for tablets, not laptops).
    • A pencil or pen.
    • A photo ID. Either your driver's license, passport, or school ID is an option. This is only required if you’re homeschooled or if you’ll be taking the test at a school that’s not the one you attend.
    • An approved calculator and extra batteries. A graphic calculator is built into the digital test, but you can bring your own if you prefer.

    You don't need much with you for the exam. It's advisable to bring as little as possible into the test room with you, as there may be rules about what is and isn't allowed. Check with your school administrator if you have any questions.

    How much does the PSAT cost?

    The PSAT costs $18. However, some school districts offer the test for free. If your school doesn't provide a free test, you can apply to have the fee waived with a fee waiver application. To learn more about fee waivers, visit the school counselor at your high school.

    When can I take the PSAT?

    The PSAT usually occurs in the month of October. For 2024, schools will choose one day between October 1 and October 31 to hold the exam. Check with your school about the exact date the PSAT will be offered at your school. 

    Can I register late for the PSAT?

    Whether or not you can register late for the PSAT depends on a few factors. Some schools offer alternative test dates allowing late registrants to take the exam.

    The best way to find out if your school offers late registration is to speak to a counselor at your school.

    Final thoughts

    Your performance on the PSAT won't impact your ability to get into college, but it serves as good preparation for the SAT or ACT. It could also lead you to qualify for National Merit Scholarship awards, so it’s important to be aware of the deadlines and plan for the exam itself.