If you are following common guidelines to the college admissions process and sticking to it, you took your PSAT at least by your sophomore year. Well it’s here: ‘Tis the season for results!
Before you panic or rejoice about your results let’s breakdown what these results mean and what your follow-up steps should be.
Are you Familiar?
The point of the PSAT is gaining familiarity with the SAT. So before you exhaust yourself analyzing your score ask yourself, “Do I understand the format of the SAT” and “Have I identified what sections are challenging for me”?
How it’s Scored
The PSAT is scored between 320 and 1520 points. You’ll get two scaled scores between 160 and 760: one for Math and one for Reading and Writing combined (called Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, or EBRW). You’ll also get to see how you performed on each of the three sections with a test score between 8 and 38.
Your Score Will be Lower
The PSAT is actually scaled lower than the SAT because it’s an easier test. So a slightly lower score should not cause you to panic, the PSAT score is 80-100 points lower than what would be your SAT score.
Pay Attention to Percentiles
There will be a lot of data crammed into your PSAT scores. Perhaps the data to pay the most attention to are percentiles. The percentiles will show you how you rank among other test takers. This is great information because it will be really helpful to know if you are performing at an average level or if you are trailing behind.
What is a Good PSAT Score?
Everyone has their own expectations but many academic scholars and admissions advisors consider a score that is at least in the 75th percentile or more to be a good score. Anything above the 50th percentile is an OK score and any score ranking below 50 should definitely cause you to be alarmed. It simply means you have more work to do and underperform compared to your peers.
There is Still Hope
If you are less than thrilled with your results you still have ample time to take the PSAT again! There is no limit to the amount of times that you can take the PSAT and by understanding your score you should now have a great idea as to your weak spots. Now is the time to study, get a tutor, or ask a teacher for help on areas where you struggle.
Utilize Practice PSAT Tests
Before paying to take the PSAT over and over, search for practice PSAT tests online. Many of them are free but if you struggle to find them your high school counselor should have a stash!
Remember, practice may not literally make perfect but it will make you prepared. The PSAT is a great guide to the SAT. Use it to feel empowered and informed VS nervous and panicked. It is just another tool in your toolbox to help you gain admissions success.
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