What to Do When Your PSAT Scores Come In
Have you gotten your PSAT scores back? In past years, PSAT scores would arrive in December from College Board. But due to recent changes in the PSAT tests, scoring, and online reports, the October 2015 scores won’t be released until early January. Unlike the SAT which produce online test scores within 3 weeks, the PSAT takes a couple of months.
No matter what your scores are, now is not the time to gloat, panic, or feel indifferent. Your scores can give you an insight into potential SAT scores and provide you with a road map of where you need to go from here as you look toward SAT prep. But before getting into that, look at what your PSAT score means.
Interpreting your PSAT scores
The PSAT/NMSQT reports scores for the two areas you were tested on: Reading and Writing (combined into one section now), and Math sections. Here are some key points:
- Your scores will fall within the range of 160 to 720 points for each section. The actual SAT sections will range from 200 to 800
- A score of about 500 in any of these subject areas is about average for a student in 11th grade and considered “college ready.”
- The percentile information shows how you performed compared to others. For example, if you scored in the 18th percentile, then you scored better than 18 percent of students who took the test at the same time you did.
- Your Total Score is the sum of Reading+Math. Max is 1520 on PSAT and 1600 on SAT.
What do these scores mean for my SAT scores and college chances?
Your scores can give you an idea of what kind of SAT scores you might receive. For example, let’s look at a sample score report (picture above). This student took the PSAT in 11th grade and received:
Reading: 380 Math: 480 Total: 860
As you can see, Matt needs some test prep or tutoring before the real SAT during junior year, especially in Reading and Writing areas. All students should also practice the essay portion of the SAT, since it is not on the PSAT.
Keep in mind that the numbers you see on your PSAT score report are not a guarantee of how you will perform on the SAT—they simply provide an estimate. And, if you are so inclined, there are things you can do that should improve your SAT score.
What should I do if my PSAT test scores aren’t great?
First, don’t panic. If you’re not happy with your scores, then you’re in good company. Many students aren’t happy with the numbers they receive, and most think they could have done better. That’s actually good news! You can use your PSAT scores to figure out the exact areas of weakness you need to work on, which can help you with SAT or ACT prep.
Your score report suggests skills you need to improve on, along with tips on how to perform better in these areas on pages 2-3 on the score report PDF. Page 4 includes the student’s actual answers on the test along with the correct answers. Use the access code provided on the student’s score report to get personalized feedback from the College Board’s QuickStart program.
As you go through SAT prep, take time to review your performance on the PSAT. Prep yourself by using this time to improve your weaknesses and further enhance your strengths. It will pay off when it comes time for the real thing!
You can also link your College Board account to Khan Academy’s test prep for access to free, personalized SAT prep.
Parents or students who would like assistance interpreting PSAT scores including how scores match up against college, please contact Jolyn Brand for a consultation. She can answer a few quick questions over the phone (832-569-2467) or schedule a time to speak with the entire family. Services can include interpreting the scores and providing a “How do I compare?” sheet for the student with his or her prospective colleges to preparing a testing timeline for the SATs including test prep and suggestions.
Suggested Timeline for Students to Take the SAT or ACT