Filed in Exam by TMLT Editorials on March 28, 2022
– What is a Good PSAT Score –
What is a Good PSAT Score, one would ask? This article covers all you need to know about PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test). Although the SAT is well known, high school students should also be aware of the PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. Read on for more information.
What is the PSAT?
So, what does that alphabet mean, anyway? PSAT fully means: Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test
The PSAT 8/9 is for eighth and ninth-grade students, whereas the PSAT 10 is for sophomores. The National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a test that students take as sophomores or juniors.
As a junior, getting a good score on the PSAT/NMSQT might help a student get a National Merit Scholarship, which can mean a lot of money for college.
“So many students take this test because they believe that they will be able to get the score that will make them eligible for the scholarship,” Chris Lele, principal curriculum manager for Magoosh, a California-based online test prep company, wrote in an email.
However, obtaining a National Merit Scholarship is a difficult undertaking. More than 2 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 in the 2020-2021 school year, according to College Board data.
In 2022, about 7,500 test takers will be chosen to win a National Honor Scholarship or a corporate or college-sponsored merit award.
What Types of Merit Scholarships are Awarded?
There are three categories for the approximately 7,500 Merit Scholarships. The first is the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, which is awarded by college admissions officers and high school guidance counselors.
This prize is a $2,500 one-time payout.
Next are about 1,000 corporate-sponsored merit and special scholarships, decided by National Merit Scholarship Corp. staff, with the amount and duration of the award varying by corporate sponsor and ranging up to $10,000 per year.
Finally, there are around 4,000 renewable college-sponsored merit scholarships, with winners decided by the individual colleges and amounts ranging from $500 to $2,000 a year.
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What is the Value of the PSAT?
Experts say there are two methods for students to assess the PSAT’s worth. One is to prepare for the SAT, which is widely utilized as a college admissions exam, and the other is to prepare for one of these scholarships.
One approach to prepare for the SAT is to take a practice test like the PSAT.
“For many students – depending on how states deliver state assessments – this may be the first time they are timed on an exam,” says Kathleen Plott, director of advanced academic services at Klein Independent School District in Texas.
Experts say that generally, the PSAT is a low-stakes test unless a student is aiming for a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship or one of the special scholarships.
Colleges don’t use the PSAT as part of admissions criteria, so taking the test can be a good way to identify shortcomings in a particular subject or to work out testing anxiety, test prep experts say.
The PSAT and SAT are similar, which makes taking the PSAT a useful exercise for SAT preparation.
“The SAT is quite a bit longer and more difficult, but essentially tests the exact same thing,” Lele says, adding that “it’s as though someone took a majority of the easy and medium questions on the SAT and put them in one section that’s basically the PSAT.”
How is the PSAT Timed?
The length varies by test, with two hours and 25 minutes for the PSAT 8/9 and two hours and 45 minutes for the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT.
According to the College Board website, the PSAT 8/9 is divided into 55 minutes of reading, 30 minutes of writing and language, and 60 minutes of arithmetic.
There are 42 questions or assignments for reading, 40 for writing and language, and 38 for math across those components.
On the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT, 60 minutes is allotted for reading, 35 for writing and language, and 70 for math. These test-takers will see 47 questions or tasks in reading, 44 in writing and language, and 48 in math.
How is the PSAT Scored?
All versions of the PSAT are scored based on two sections: evidence-based reading and writing, and math.
Score ranges vary every PSAT version, albeit they are similar. The scoring range for the PSAT 8/9 is 240-1440. The PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT have a slightly higher range of 320-1520.
The combined scores from the reading and writing sections, as well as the math component, are used to calculate the score on all three exams.
The College Board has created criteria for all editions of the PSAT. Students in the eighth grade should score a 390 on the reading and writing exam and a 430 on the math component on the PSAT 8/9.
Students in the ninth grade should score 410 in reading and writing and 450 in math on the same test. According to the College Board, these grades “predict a 75% chance of earning a C or above in related first-semester, credit-bearing college courses.”
For the PSAT 10, benchmarks are set at 430 on reading and writing and 480 on math for 10th grade students. For the PSAT/NMSQT, those numbers are 460 for reading and writing and 510 for math, or 30 points higher in each.
When weighing their scores on the PSAT, Plott says, students should ask themselves, “How have I grown from the first time I took (the test), whether I was in eighth or ninth grade, and how am I moving along the path toward college readiness?”
The PSAT’s final score is made up of two section scores, however the topics assessed include a wide range of subjects. Students need to master history, social studies, science, and arithmetic, according to the College Board website.
They should also be able to display analytical and problem-solving abilities, in addition to reading, writing, and reasoning abilities.
The College Board website also notes that points are earned for every correct question answered, meaning there’s no penalty for guessing. Test-takers should try to answer every question since there’s “no advantage to leaving them blank,” the website states.
What is a Good PSAT Score?
When aiming for a particular score, students should think about their motivations, experts say, whether that’s trying to practice for the SAT or to earn a coveted and competitive scholarship.
On the PSAT 8/9, 835 was the mean score for eighth-grade test-takers, compared with 892 for their ninth-grade peers, according to 2020-2021 data from the College Board.
The mean score on the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT was 959 for sophomores and 1044 for juniors.
Scores can reveal strengths and weaknesses, Plott says, and make students aware of deficiencies they can address before the SAT. Pinpointing the exact score needed to earn a National Merit Scholarship is tricky, however, because it varies.
There’s no set number from year to year.
According to the National Merit Scholarship Corp. website, the 50,000 qualifiers for the award are identified using a selection index that is “calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores.”
Those qualifiers are ultimately pared down to National Merit Scholars and other special scholarship winners.
Recipients are selected from among the highest-scoring PSAT/NMSQT test-takers in each state who also have qualifying SAT or ACT scores, meaning the competition is stiff.
“There’s so little room for error that you just have to crush the test,” Applerouth says of those chasing scholarship dreams.
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How to Prepare for the PSAT
Since the PSAT is similar to the SAT, experts recommend using the same test prep materials for all PSAT exams.
“I’d say whatever SAT strategies are out there, these apply to the PSAT,” Lele says. “I think the only exception is pacing advice, since that is often framed around the SAT section and the time allotted for that section.
Pacing strategies for the PSAT would need to take into account the number of questions on each section and the time allowed per question.”
Several companies, like Magoosh and Applerouth, provide paid tutoring for kids studying for the PSAT, SAT, and other examinations. There are other free options, such as Khan Academy, which has been cited by numerous test prep professionals as a good resource for the exam.
Plott emphasizes using official resources available on the College Board website or through the affiliated Khan Academy. She urges students to spend time identifying their weaknesses and sharpening them as they prepare for the PSAT and eventually the SAT.
Experts also encourage students to pay close attention to pacing to ensure they are finishing practice tests on time; to find patterns in the questions they missed on practice tests; and to boost their knowledge gaps in those areas.
While students register for the SAT through the College Board, the PSAT works differently.
Students interested in taking the PSAT exams can do so directly through their high school and should check with counselors on registration details, which may vary by grade level.
When is the PSAT?
Anticipated PSAT/NMSQT Dates
|2022 PSAT/NMSQT Administration Dates|
|Primary Test Day||October 12, 2022|
|Saturday Test Day||October 15, 2022|
|Alternate Test Day||October 25, 2022|
Note: All dates subject to change.
Among the differences between the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT are test dates.
This school year, the PSAT 8/9 will be available until March 25, 2022, with a second session scheduled for April 13-29. The exam is given at school, and testing dates may vary depending on when the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 are administered.
The next round of PSAT 10 testing will take place from February 21 to March 25, 2022, and again from April 13 to 29, 2022.
There are three options this fall for the 2021 PSAT/NMSQT. The primary test date is Oct. 13, with alternatives on Oct. 16 and Oct. 26.
What’s a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore?
We can define a “good” PSAT score for a sophomore as one that’s higher than the 75th percentile. This means that you scored higher than 75% of other sophomores who took the PSAT. For sophomores, 75th percentile scores are around 520-540 on each section, or 1060 total.
For a sophomore, a “OK” PSAT score is one that is greater than the 50th percentile, which means you scored in the same range as or higher than half of the test takers. An good result, on the other hand, is one that exceeds the 90th percentile, or 90 percent of test takers.
This chart shows the minimum section and composite scores you’d need to get in order to hit the 50th, 75th, 90th, and 99th percentiles on the PSAT:
|PSAT Percentile (10th Grade)||EBRW Score||Math Score||Composite Score|
Based on that reasoning, a good PSAT score for a sophomore is a composite score higher than 1060, an OK score is one higher than 920, and an excellent score is anything higher than 1180.
If you took the PSAT in October 2021 and receive your results in mid-December. The score report you receive may appear perplexing at first, but you now understand what PSAT scaled scores, section scores, and subscores signify (and you can always refer back to this article for a refresher!).
Students aiming for the National Merit Scholarship should also examine their Selection Index score to determine if it is higher than the qualifying score for their state in previous years.
Everyone has their own definition of what a “good” PSAT score is. For some, a good PSAT score is one that’s above average. In that case, you’d want to use percentiles to determine what makes a good score on the PSAT.
If you’re a high-achieving student who spends time studying for the PSAT, a good score could imply National Merit recognition for you.
Only the highest scorers from throughout the country are named Commended Scholars and Semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Set your PSAT score goals using the Selection Index cutoff for your state before taking the PSAT.
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How you prepare for the SAT might be influenced by how well you do on the PSAT. You can create a PSAT score target depending on the SAT score you’ll need for college applications in the future.
If you make it, wonderful; if you don’t, you’ll know you need to devote more time to SAT prep in order to get into the sweet spot for the universities you want to apply to.
If you learned something new from this article, share it with friends and family. Feel free to leave a comment below.