Students receive their PSAT scores approximately two months after taking the PSAT. Have you had a chance to look at your PSAT scores and really understand how well you did? Here’s a quick guide to understanding the PSAT score and what it means to you.
First, the PSAT is a practice for the SAT. Unlike the SAT, the PSAT has no standing results or impact on future college choices or scholarships. The SAT is where the importance lies. However, the PSAT is a good chance to identify any weaknesses so a student knows what to work on in their preparation for the SAT. Students who score high enough on the PSAT can qualify for a National Merit Scholarship (we’ll discuss this further towards the end of the article).
The PSAT has three sections, similar to the SAT – Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing Skills. Each section is worth 20 to 80 points each. Below the score on each section will be a range of possible scores. These ranges show what a student can expect to get on the SAT without additional study or practice. To approximate the SAT score, add an extra zero.
With the PSAT score comes a percentage. The percentile included with the score allows students to compare their score to other students across the country with the same grade. If the percentile is 60%, for example, that means the student scored higher than 60% of students in the same grade and worse than 40%. The best a student can score is in the 99th percentile. The national average is 50%. Scores above the 90th percentile will find more scholarship opportunity and open doors for college.
A good PSAT score is dependent on the student’s goals – what school do they want to attend and what major is he or she considering? This will help you determine whether to be more concerned about your math score versus your English score.
To know which answers are wrong, the test booklet with the student’s score includes a score report. There’s also a code number on the PSAT score sheet that can be entered into the College Board website for further analysis. Both will allow a student to review the questions that were answered wrong. The answer key for the PSAT lists the correct answer, the student’s answer, and the questions level of difficulty. Using the score report, the student can help determine where to focus their studies for the SAT.
However, doing well on the PSAT does not mean the SAT will be an easy score. The PSAT is a lot easier. The PSAT has greater number of easy to medium questions while the SAT has a range of medium to hard questions. The SAT is a 3 hour and 45 minute test whereas the PSAT is only 2 hours and 10 minutes long. Many students find the ability to concentrate as the hardest part about the SAT.
For those who are interested in the National Merit Scholarships – each year, a limited number of juniors score high enough on the PSAT to quality for National Merit. The qualifying score changes yearly, but it is typically between 210 and 215 points based on the PSAT scoring system. This is according to the Princeton Review. The score students need to be a semifinalist also changes from state to state since it’s based on the percentage of all test scores taken in each state. This means a student in New York needs a high score than a student in Alabama. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation will notify students who qualify in September of their senior year.
To improve your SAT score over your PSAT score, a student should use the PSAT results to prepare. The PSAT will give a list of skills a student needs to work on based on their overall test performance. Look for patterns in the questions that were wrongly answered. This is an important process. A student who misses a lot of easy questions may need to slow down when taking the test to refrain from careless mistakes. If hard questions are missed, the student needs to study those more advanced concepts. The PSAT result will help a student determine which areas need the most work.
Our diagnostics test at www.SATPrepGroup.com will also help a student determine what more they need to learn and areas that are their strongest and weakest subjects. As a student studies to help improve their weak points, we encourage them to take the SAT / ACT diagnostics test regularly to know how he or she has improved!
SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.