What’s a good PSAT score? As you consider a PSAT score goal in 2018’s competitive scholarship qualification process, it’s wise to understand average scores and qualifying scores for various scholarship programs. Taking the PSAT gives you a chance to qualify for several scholarship programs, most notably the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT is also excellent practice for the SAT and can help you stand out to colleges. For starters, though, here are the basics you might need to know about your PSAT score.
Your Junior year PSAT score is what qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship. Some schools or districts will offer the PSAT to sophomores in October, or PSAT 10 in the Spring of their sophomore year. This is a good chance for extra practice, and to see how you might expect to perform when it counts Junior year.
PSAT scoring can be pretty complex. You will receive a score ranging from 10 to 40 on each of the three tests (Reading, Writing & Language, and Math) as well as a score ranging from 160 to 760 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and for Math. Your overall PSAT score will range from 320 to 1520 and is calculated by adding your two area scores together.
In addition to your overall scores, you will receive subscores that provide a deeper analysis of your PSAT performance. The PSAT also gives you a percentile ranking, which allows you to compare your scores with those of other high school juniors who took the test. For example, a student with a percentile of 63 has earned a score better than 63 percent of that year’s test takers.
PSAT Score Ranges
Scores that will put you in the top 10% of all test takers
OVERALL SCORE: 1210-1520
READING AND WRITING: 620+
These scores are considered competitive scores (top 25% of all test takers)
OVERALL SCORE: 1070-1200
READING AND WRITING: 560-610
These scores put you ahead of the pack (50%+), but won’t be as advantageous.
SCALED SCORE: 950-1060
READING AND WRITING: 500-550
These scores may be enough, but will be below average compared to the testing population
SCALED SCORE: 1050 or below
MATH: below 500
READING AND WRITING: below 500
Why take the PSAT?
The PSAT/NMSQT stands for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. It has three main functions:
The top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT are recognized by the National Merit program and sent letters of commendation. More than 10,000 of these students share more than $47 million in National Merit Scholarship money. Only juniors who take the PSAT are eligible for National Merit Scholarships. The top 16,000 scorers become semifinalists, and approximately 15,000 semifinalists become finalists. Finally, almost 8,500 National Merit finalists receive National Merit Scholarships, with each award being up to $2,500 a year toward a college education. Many high scorers who don’t receive National Merit Scholarships are awarded merit scholarships from the schools to which they apply based on their high scores. Whether you qualify as a Commended Student, a Semifinalist, a Finalist, or a full-fledged National Merit Scholar, it’s definitely worth noting this achievement on your college applications.
For more information on the National Merit Scholarships and Special Scholarships, visit www.nationalmerit.org.