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Mathematics questions call upon the skills students have learned in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Some of the questions are like those in standard math textbooks. Others require students to use math skills in original ways to solve non-routine problems. The ability to reason logically in a variety of situations is tested throughout.

Basic geometric formulas are included in the test book for reference because the PSAT/NMSQT emphasizes application, rather than memorization, of this material.

The Basics

Get the facts on PSAT/NMSQT Mathematics:

Academic Skills Tested

Mathematics questions are designed to test these specific skills – the same skills that are critical for success in college and career:

  • Problem Solving: Solve abstract and practical problems by applying and adapting a variety of strategies. Monitor progress and evaluate answers in terms of the questions asked.
  • Representation: Use and translate among representations including verbal, numerical, symbolic, and graphical to communicate mathematical ideas and solve problems.
  • Reasoning: Develop and use mathematical arguments and proofs to explore the truth of conjectures and justify conclusions.
  • Connections: Connect ideas from different areas of mathematics (particularly geometry and algebra) to state or solve abstract or applied problems.
  • Communication: Express mathematical ideas precisely and communicate them coherently and clearly in the language and notation of mathematics.

Math Concepts Covered

The PSAT/NMSQT covers math concepts in four areas:

  • Number and operations
  • Algebra and functions
  • Geometry and measurement
  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability

The PSAT/NMSQT does not test content covered in third-year math classes. The SAT, however, does test that content.

See a detailed list of math concepts covered on the PSAT/NMSQT.

Related Topics


Find out which calculators are OK to use on the PSAT/NMSQT — and which are not. 

Approved Calculators

A Closer Look

Get deep info on reading skills, math concepts, and effective writing.

Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT (.pdf/2.47MB)