What the Digital Math Section Is Like

The Math section of the PSAT/NMSQT is designed to measure your success with building critical college and career readiness knowledge and skills in math. It focuses on key elements of algebra, advanced math, problem-solving and data analysis, and geometry and trigonometry. Over the course of the Math section, you’ll answer multiple-choice and student-produced response questions that measure your fluency with, understanding of, and ability to apply the math concepts, skills, and practices that are most essential.

Approximately 30% of Math questions are set in context. These in-context "word" questions require you to consider a science, social studies, or real-world scenario and apply your math skills and knowledge, along with an understanding of the context, to determine the answer to each.

Select questions in this section are accompanied by an informational graphic.

Math Section Overview

Test length:

  • 1st module: 20 operational questions and 2 pretest questions
  • 2nd module: 20 operational questions and 2 pretest questions

Total: 44 questions

Time per module:

  • 1st module: 35 minutes
  • 2nd module: 35 minutes

Total: 70 minutes
(~1 minute and 35 seconds per question)

Questions from all four content domains appear in each test module. Across each module, questions are arranged from easiest to hardest, allowing you to have the best opportunity to demonstrate what you know and can do. Pretest questions don’t count toward your score.

Content Domain Domain Description Skill/Knowledge Testing Points Question Distribution
Algebra Measures the ability to analyze, fluently solve, and create linear equations and inequalities as well as analyze and fluently solve equations and systems of equations using multiple techniques Linear equations in 1 variable; Linear equations in 2 variables; Linear functions; Systems of 2 linear equations in 2 variables; Linear inequalities in 1 or 2 variables 13–15 questions
Advanced Math Measures skills and knowledge central for progression to more advanced math courses, including demonstrating an understanding of absolute value, quadratic, exponential, polynomial, rational, radical, and other nonlinear equations Equivalent expressions; Nonlinear equations in 1 variable and systems of equations in 2 variables; Nonlinear functions 13–15 questions
Problem-Solving and Data Analysis Measures the ability to apply quantitative reasoning about ratios, rates, and proportional relationships; understand and apply unit rate; and analyze and interpret 1- and 2-variable data Ratios, rates, proportional relationships, and units; Percentages, 1-variable data: distributions and measures of center and spread; 2-variable data: models and scatterplots; Probability and conditional probability; Inference from sample statistics and margin of error; Evaluating statistical claims: observational studies and experiments 5–7 questions
Geometry and Trigonometry Measures the ability to solve problems that focus on area and volume; angles, triangles, and trigonometry; and circles Area and volume; Lines, angles, and triangles; Right triangles and trigonometry; Circles 5–7 questions
NOTE: Some tests may differ from these specifications because of format variations. For example, some students with accommodations will take a linear test (with linear practice also available in Bluebook), and that linear test has different question counts in the modules. You can learn more in the Assessment Framework for the Digital SAT Suite.