What to Do When Your PSAT Scores Come In
Have you gotten your PSAT scores back? Scores from the October 2019 PSAT will be released on different days, depending on the area of the country. Texas students should get their scores on December 11, while Florida students will get their scores on December 9.
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 roadmap 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), 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.
Update for 2019 PSAT: Most students should expect their scores to have decreased from 2018. Based on the percentile data we are receiving from College Board, a 1200 on the 2018 PSAT would have been top 82% nationally. For the 2019 PSAT, that 1200 is a 90% nationally.
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 (pictured above). This student took the PSAT in 11th grade and received:
Reading: 430 Math: 530 Total: 960
As you can see, this student needs some test prep or tutoring before the real SAT during junior year, especially in Reading and Writing areas.
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