What to Do Once You Receive Your PSAT Scores

Receiving your PSAT scores can be stressful—and confusing. It’s all too easy to transfer how you feel about your results onto your overall academic self-esteem—a natural but not necessarily helpful connection—and it’s easy to feel at a loss for what to do next.

So what should you do once you receive your PSAT scores? Take these three steps.

Once you receive your PSAT scores, assess your strengths and weaknesses

If you took the PSAT in October 2018, you will be able to access your scores between December 10 and 12, depending on what state you live in. (Visit The College Board to find out which date corresponds to your state.)

Your score report will include results that correspond to math, reading, and writing and language. You’ll also receive section scores for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and for Math. Additionally, there are cross-test scores, which pull out selected questions across the previously mentioned subjects of math, reading, and writing and language, and analyze them for your performance in history/social studies, as well as science. Finally, your report will include subscores, or more detailed sections under the umbrellas of:

  • Math

  • Reading

  • Writing and Language.

These results will give you more information about what content areas you were strong in, as well as which areas you need more practice in—whether you’re planning to retake the PSAT as a junior or in preparation for the ACT or SAT.

[RELATED: What is an Average PSAT Score?]

Create a study plan for the ACT or SAT once you receive your PSAT scores

The next step is to make a study plan for the ACT or SAT, depending on which test you would like to take. In addition to analyzing your subscores/content areas, look at your score report to see how you did on easy, medium, and hard questions. This can help you come up with the best test-taking strategies for yourself. For example, if you frequently missed easy questions, it could be because of careless mistakes. You’ll want to spend a bit more time, then, reading carefully so as not to miss easy points. If, on the other hand, you missed a lot of hard questions, use best practices like checking that you’re not missing anything at every step, and again, that you’ve read the question carefully.

Not only can online resources be helpful at this juncture, but ACT/SAT test prep books can be great. You may also want to sign up for ACT tutoring or SAT tutoring.

Lastly, once you’ve decided on your SAT or ACT test date, create a plan in terms of how much time you want to spend studying daily, weekly, and monthly leading up to the exam. This will help you stay on track in terms of content areas, as well as taking practice tests (which you’ll want to do in the weeks leading up to the actual test).

Once you receive your PSAT scores, visit your guidance counselor

After you’ve received your scores, visit your academic counselor. They will be able to give you tips and insight into how to move forward. If your PSAT score qualifies you for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which offers funding for college, and you’re not sure what to do next, your guidance counselor can help you. They can also help you look up colleges that may be good matches for you, depending on your scores and your overall academic progress. In addition to a counselor, a teacher or other academic professional may be a great resource for you as you look ahead to the next standardized test and to college.

When you’ve received your scores, you should celebrate regardless of whether you’ve received the score you wanted—you’ve taken an important test, you’ve come through to the other side, and you now have more information about yourself as a test-taker. Now it’s time to look forward.


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