PSAT can make you feel more comfortable before taking your SATs, as it’s not the sole determiner of your future. However, that doesn’t mean you should just show up for your PSAT and try to wing it. Moreover, the test is also known as the NMQST (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), because it can qualify you for a scholarship. So, you will probably want to know what’s a good PSAT score to accomplish your goals.
Also, even if you don’t want any financial aid, you should know where you stand when compared to your peers. Additionally, the PSAT can show you how far you’ve come with your studies, and what needs to improve. So, let’s see what PSAT consists of, and how much you need to score to accomplish your goals.
You’ve probably taken your PSAT, and now you’re wondering how well your score measures up against all others. So, let’s start with the basics of a PSAT.
The PSAT consists of two sections, Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing. Each section is made up of passage-based questions that are sometimes accompanied by graphs, tables, charts, etc. You can get anywhere from 160–760 points per section, or 320–1520 points in total.
You’ll also get a score presented in percentiles, and this number lets you see how well you did compared to other students. For example, if your score is in the 90th percentile, it means that you scored in the top 10% of all test-takers.
Finally, you’ll receive individual test scores for each part of your test, known as the Section Index (SI) score. These scores range from 8–38, and the SI score is calculated by adding them up and multiplying them by 2. So, for example, if you scored 22 on reading, 30 on language and writing, and 18 on math, you SI would be 70*2 = 140. Now that you know what goes into a PSAT score, let’s see how your score fares in the grand scheme of things.
A Good PSAT Score
The PSAT is a highly competitive test, as it can make or break your scholarship and determine how much financial aid you can get. Also, the scores of the top 10% of students vary from school to school and are different from one grade to another. But for this article, we’ll focus on the 2017 PSAT scores for 11th graders. The mean was 1014, and these were their full scores, ranked by the percentile:
The 50th Percentile
Math — 500
Evidence-Based Writing and Reading — 510
Total Score — 1010
The 75th Percentile
Math — 570
Evidence-Based Writing and Reading — 590
Total Score — 1160
The 90th Percentile
Math — 640
Evidence-Based Writing and Reading — 650
Total Score — 1290
Deciphering the Score
Scoring in the 50th percentile means you did just as well as half of the students who took the test. The score doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, it just means you need to practice more before taking your SAT.
Additionally, the 75th percentile could be a reason for celebration among many students — and it is a pretty good result. However, if you have your eyes set on an Ivy League college, you might need to study more.
Finally, reaching the 90th percentile means you’ve got a great score, and have nothing to worry about — most of the time. The score is probably enough to get you into the most prestigious programs and eligible for a good scholarship. However, to err on the side of caution, you should still look up the average scores of students in your school of choice, to see if you stand a chance.
Even though your PSAT doesn’t count towards your college admission applications, it’s still an important part of the process. Moreover, it’s a good way to know how well you compare to other students, and it will determine if you’re eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. So, use your PSAT as a trial run, but also keep in mind that it can play a major role in the rest of your schooling.