Grading structure of the PSAT
Your PSAT results consist of three sections (Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing), each worth 20-80 points, for a maximum mark of 240. There are two key reasons to sit for the PSAT: to prepare for the SAT, and to potentially rank well enough for the National Merit Scholarship. Your official score report includes further instructions for the National Merit Scholarship application process, as well as your ranking. While the necessary result varies from year to year, the selection index score (the sum of all three sections) for the National Merit Scholarship is roughly 200. Keep in mind that only a very select number of high school juniors enrolled in full-time high school programs are eligible for the scholarship; if you are not eligible, this is typically notated with an asterisk. Here is some great information on what to know about the PSAT that you may find helpful.
The score report will also include an indication of your results versus the national average, which is useful not only for those individuals in less traditional programs, but also when considering college. Overall, these marks provide a diagnostic base for the SAT. If they are lower than you were hoping, your score report becomes a strong signal to begin the preparation process!
When do we hear about scores?
The PSAT is only administered once per year (generally mid-October) with results typically released around the first week of December. Please check these dates online near Thanksgiving for official information. Remember that you will not hear from the National Merit Scholarship committee for up to an additional nine months. You may also want to take a look at how the PSAT will change in 2015.
If you are confident about your PSAT scores, that’s wonderful! Investigate the National Merit Scholarship, as it is a fantastic opportunity. The scholarship committee will contact you in September of your senior year if you are eligible. If they do not, you are still in good company. A multitude of students have difficulties with the PSAT, so do not panic! The PSAT is preparatory practice for the SAT, so the testing service provides you with a specific results sheet, including a copy of your test. Put this to good use! Focus on your weaknesses and study for the SAT using this guideline. An easy technique to determine your relative SAT score is to add a zero to the end of each section score. For example, if you received a 60 on the mathematics portion, it is roughly equivalent to a 600 on the SAT. Here are some great practice tests for the SAT that can help you start preparing for the test.
If you are unhappy with your PSAT results, remember this is not the end of the world. It is entirely possible to dramatically improve your scores on the SAT through careful preparation that utilizes the PSAT as a guide. Each question is provided in your report, along with the correct answer. Feel free to test yourself and determine where you erred. If you failed to finish in the allotted time or became nervous, that information is central to recognize before you reach the SAT. Consider the PSAT a chance to address test anxiety, time management, or other test-taking shortcuts. Remember, it is best to utilize the PSAT as a roadmap to your best possible SAT score. Address any large problems before you begin reviewing for the SAT!