This year, students will gain access to their PSAT/NMSQT® scores on December 7th-8th.
You may be wondering how you did on the PSAT test. A good PSAT test score can qualify you for academic honors, add a gold star to your college application, and lead to scholarships later on.
In this blog, we’ll explain what the PSAT test is, how to access your scores, and how to evaluate your performance on the test.
What Is the PSAT Test?
The PSAT test is designed with two purposes in mind.
The first purpose is to provide students with a preview of what will be on the SAT® test that they may eventually take as part of the college admissions process.
The second purpose is to evaluate students for the National Merit® Scholarship program qualification. This applies only when the test is taken in the 11th grade.
The National Merit Corporation honors those students who score in the 99.5th percentile in their state during their 11th grade year.
Becoming a National Merit Semifinalist can yield substantial scholarships from certain universities and is an excellent addition to a competitive application for elite schools.
Semifinalists can go on to become Finalists through an application process. Finalists may receive financial awards from the National Merit Corporation itself.
Learn more about why the PSAT test is important.
Who Can Take the PSAT Test?
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, most school districts offer the PSAT test to their 10th and 11th graders in October of each year. Some schools also offer the test to their 9th graders. In the 2020-2021 school year, some schools will offer the test in January 2021 due to COVID-19 precautions.
How to Access Your PSAT Scores
If you are a student that took the PSAT test this October, scores will be available on or after December 7th or 8th, 2020. You’ll need to log on to the College Board® website to see your score report.
View a sample PSAT score report here.
If you haven’t already registered for an online account, set up your College Board account here. Please note: You’ll use this same account to sign up for SAT and SAT Subject Tests in the future. This account will also be used to access your AP® scores as well.
Steps to View Your PSAT Test Scores:
- Go to studentscores.collegeboard.org
- Log on with your College Board Account (or register for an online account if you haven’t already)
- Once you log in, you should be able to access your score report.
Don’t see your scores? Try these steps:
- Click “Matching Tool” on the dashboard page and update any incorrect information.
- Use the access code that should have been emailed to you on your score release day.
- Click “Get My Scores” on the Matching Tool page.
- Select “I can supply my test information”
- Enter test information and provide the access code to view your scores
Please note: If you have trouble finding your access code, contact your high school counselor. If you have additional problems accessing your scores, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Understanding Your PSAT Test Scores
The first page of your score report will give you your total scaled score.
The lowest possible score is 320 while the highest PSAT score attainable is 1520.
This score report will also give you section scores for Evidence Based Reading and Writing (commonly referred to as “verbal’) and Math. Each section is scored on a 160 to 760 scale.
The next page of the report will give you your National Merit Selection Index Score (SIS). This is a number obtained by doubling your verbal score, adding that to your math score, and dividing by 10. The highest possible SIS is 228.
For the Class of 2019, the lowest Texas Semifinalist qualifying SIS was 221. The SIS score can vary from year to year as the threshold is based on the score needed to hit the 99.5th percentile.
The rest of the report gives more detailed information. On the third page of data, you will see your test scores. These are scores ranging from 8-38 in Reading, Writing, and Math.
You will also receive cross-test scores designed to let you know how you performed on social studies and science topics across the exam. These are also on an 8-38 scale.
The final page of your score report will show you your sub scores, which are broad content areas of each section. These are the sub scores you will receive: Reading, Command of Evidence and Words in Context; Writing, Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions; Math, Heart of Algebra Problem Solving, Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. Sub scores range from 1-15.
This final page will also note which specific questions you missed, indicate the level of difficulty for each question, and provide you with the correct answer for the items you missed.
For more information, read our post about understanding your PSAT score report.
What is Considered a Good PSAT Score?
There are two methods for evaluating your PSAT test scores:
- You can base them off percentiles in order to gauge your likeliness of qualifying for National Merit Semifinalist status.
- You can base it off mid-range scores desired by selective colleges.
Evaluating Scores Based on Percentiles
One way to interpret your results is to look at your percentile.
A percentile demonstrates how you stack up against your peers at the national level.
For example, someone in the 70th percentile would be the 30th person in line if 100 test takers lined up in order from those with the highest to those with the lowest score.
This national percentile will also give you an idea of whether or not your selection index score is high enough to make National Merit Semifinalist for your state.
Texas is a little more competitive than some states in terms of the score required to achieve the 99.5th percentile.
Therefore, a Texas student might have a 99th percentile score nationally but still not fall in the 99th percentile or 99.5th percentile for Texas.
So while knowing that you scored lower than the 99th percentile means you likely didn’t make National Merit status in Texas, falling at the 99th percentile nationally doesn’t guarantee you’ll be high enough compared to your fellow Texans either.
For the Class of 2018, only 1,466 of the 223,446 Texas students that took the PSAT test were eligible for National Merit Semifinalist status. That’s about 0.65%.
You’ll have to wait until September of your senior year to confirm your National Merit Semifinalist status. View the full list of Texas Class of 2020 National Merit Semifinalists.
For more information, read our post about the National Merit scholarship contest.
Evaluating Scores Based on Scores Desired by Colleges
Another way to assess your standing is to compare your score to the mid-range scores desired by the colleges to which you are interested in applying.
You’ll have more time before you apply during your senior year, but this will give you a good ballpark estimate of where you are now.
The PSAT won’t be the only standardized exam of its kind that you take. If you are in the 9th or 10th grade, you will have the chance to take the PSAT test again.
Beginning in the 11th grade, you’ll take the SAT and ACT® tests for college admissions. These exams will include the type of material that you faced on the PSAT as well as some additional content that is slightly higher level. There are no “retakes” for the11th grade PSAT test, but you will be able to attempt the SAT and ACT tests multiple times if needed.
Taking the PSAT test is a good way to gauge your readiness for future college admissions tests.
The directors at KD College Prep can meet with you to discuss your next steps in your journey to college.
Our lessons, workshops, and practice test reviews are proven methods to help students reach their score goals. In fact, our students make up nearly 40% of the Dallas Fort-Worth National Merit Semifinalists for the Class of 2021.
All of our activities are instructor-led, so you will always get plenty of expert feedback for how to improve.
Our students also have the opportunity to attend a Parent Student Planning Seminar to get the latest on making the most of prep and the college admissions process.
To get started, contact a campus near you or learn about our test prep programs.