What the Digital Reading and Writing Section Is Like

The Reading and Writing section of the PSAT/NMSQT is designed to measure your success with building critical college and career readiness in literacy. In this section, you'll answer multiple-choice questions requiring you to read, comprehend, and use information and ideas in texts; analyze the craft and structure of texts; revise texts to improve the rhetorical expression of ideas; and edit texts to follow core conventions of Standard English.

Passages in this section, which serve as the basis for answering test questions, represent the subject areas of literature, history/social studies, the humanities, and science. There is a single question per passage.

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

Reading and Writing Section Overview

Test length:

  • 1st module: 25 operational questions and 2 pretest questions
  • 2nd module: 25 operational questions and 2 pretest questions

Total: 54 questions

Time per module:

  • 1st module: 32 minutes
  • 2nd module: 32 minutes

Total: 64 minutes
(~1 minute and 11 seconds per question)

Questions in the Reading and Writing section represent one of four content domains, shown in the table that follows. To help you budget your time, questions that test similar skills and knowledge are grouped together and arranged from easiest to hardest. Pretest questions don't count toward your score.

Content Domain Domain Description Skill/Knowledge Testing Points Operational Question Distribution
Craft and Structure Measures the comprehension, vocabulary, analysis, synthesis, and reasoning skills and knowledge needed to understand and use high-utility words and phrases in context, evaluate texts rhetorically, and make connections between topically related texts Words in Context, Text Structure and Purpose, Cross-Text Connections 13–15 questions
Information and Ideas Measures comprehension, analysis, and reasoning skills and knowledge and the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, and integrate information and ideas from texts and informational graphics (tables, bar graphs, and line graphs) Central Ideas and Details, Command of Evidence (Textual, Quantitative), Inferences 12–14 questions
Standard English Conventions Measures the ability to edit texts to conform to core conventions of Standard English sentence structure, usage, and punctuation Boundaries, Form, Structure, and Sense 11–15 questions
Expression of Ideas Measures the ability to revise texts to improve the effectiveness of written expression and to meet specific rhetorical goals Rhetorical Synthesis, Transitions 8–12 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 item counts in the modules. You can learn more in the Assessment Framework for the Digital SAT Suite.