Do PSAT Scores Matter?

High school students often spend a significant amount of time preparing for the SAT, an exam that plays an important role in college admissions. Often, a part of students’ prep includes taking the PSAT—a shorter version of the SAT, typically taken by high school sophomores and juniors.

Administered by the College Board in October, the PSAT gives students a taste of the college entrance exam experience, without the high stakes of scores affecting college admissions.

While a student’s PSAT score can’t help or hurt college opportunities like an SAT score can, a good performance on the PSAT is important in other ways. PSAT scores help students identify their projected SAT performance, qualify for scholarship opportunities, and gain confidence sitting for standardized tests. Keep reading to learn why PSAT scores matter.

PSAT scores provide insight into how you might perform on the SAT

The PSAT is one of the first opportunities most high school students have to take a standardized college entrance exam. Like the SAT and ACT, the PSAT is timed and overseen by proctors. A student’s score on the PSAT is also an early projection of SAT performance. This score can help students gauge how much additional studying might be needed to achieve their goal score on the SAT, as well as help students determine which subject areas will require additional focus in order to reach this goal.

[RELATED: What is an Average PSAT Score?]

PSAT scores allow you the potential to earn a National Merit Scholarship

High school juniors are automatically entered as potential recipients of a National Merit Scholarship when taking the PSAT. This scholarship is awarded to students who have scored the highest on the PSAT in their state. More than 1.5 million students are eligible each year, and top scorers move on to a semifinalist round. Semifinalists must also fulfill several requirements like:

  • Completing the National Merit Scholarship Application

  • Submitting an SAT score.

On average, 15,000 of the highest achieving students move on to the finalist round of the competition, and 7,500 of these finalists receive the National Merit Scholarship award.

[RELATED: How to Manage Your Time on the PSAT]

The PSAT can build your confidence to tackle standardized testing

Sometimes, taking the SAT without any previous experience can be intimidating. Sitting for the PSAT prior to SAT test day can help alleviate test-taking anxiety and introduce students to what test day will be like. Additionally, prepping for the PSAT can help students establish good study habits that can be utilized throughout their college entrance exams. Aside from individual prep, students may choose to work with a PSAT tutor to gain a better grasp of test content. Utilizing a variety of prep strategies can help test-takers identify the most successful prep methods to tackle PSAT test day.

[RELATED: 10 Study Habits to Avoid]

The PSAT may feel to some students like an insignificant event in their early high school years. Alternatively, the PSAT provides many opportunities for students to examine their current performance levels and create a plan for success come SAT test day.  


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