The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is generally taken in the sophomore year of high school. It is a good indicator of how a student will do on the SAT exams and can help student pinpoint areas of weakness to study before taking the SAT. The PSAT is also used to determine which students qualify to apply for the National Merit Scholarship, but only when taken in the junior year--sophomores will not be considered for the National Merit Scholarship.

Math Section

Scores on the math section range from 20 to 80 points. This corresponds to the 200- to 800-point range on the SAT. The average score is between 44 and 49. To qualify to apply for a National Merit Scholarship, you must score 65 or above.

Critical Reading Section

The critical reading section also has a 20 to 80 point range. Average scores range from 42 to 47, and a score above 60 is necessary to apply for the National Merit Scholarship.

Writing Section

The writing section is also scored from 20 to 80 points with a lower average of 41 to 46. A score above 60 is necessary to qualify to apply for the National Merit Scholarship.

Total Score

The individual scores from each of the sections are combined to form the total score. The highest possible score is 240, while the average total score is 142. Each state has different scores to qualify to apply for the National Merit Scholarship, ranging from 201 to 211.