What is the PSAT?
Every October, high schools around the world have their 10th and 11th graders take a test called the PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT is a pre-college standardized test that includes questions on writing, reading comprehension, and math.
The PSAT results come out (generally) in December, causing parents and students alike to ask, “what does this score even mean?” With a strange score scale (a perfect score is a ‘1520’), confusing percentiles, and difficult-to-understand scholarship eligibility directions, the PSAT can bring anxiety to many families.
If your 10th or 11th grade student received their PSAT score lately, read on to learn what their score really means, and the next steps you can consider for your student.
What’s on the PSAT?
Just like the official SAT the PSAT is made up of two overall sections and three subsections. Under the umbrella of Evidence-Based Reading & Writing are two subsections: Reading and Writing.
- Number of questions: 47
- Time: 60 minutes
- Primary Content: Reading comprehension, vocabulary in content, command of evidence, and analysis ability.
- Number of questions: 44
- Time: 35 minutes
- Primary Content: Editing ability, vocabulary in context, and understanding of grammar.
The math section accounts for the other half of a student’s score.
- Number of questions: 48
- Time: 70 minutes
- Primary Content: Concepts from Algebra I & I, Geometry, and Trigonometry.
How long does the PSAT take?
Both the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT take 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete and are abbreviated versions of the real SAT. These two PSAT tests are formatted in exactly the same way.
Should I take the PSAT 10 or the PSAT/NMSQT?
Sophomores in high school typically take the PSAT 10. In order to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, you’ll need to take the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior.
Is the PSAT similar to the SAT? What’s the difference?
The Verbal and Math sections of the PSAT are each scored on a 160-760 scale. Overall, the PSAT is scored on a scale of 320-1520. In contrast, each section of the SAT is scored on a 200-800 scale. The overall scale is 400-1600.
Is this a good PSAT score? What will my child get on the SAT?
Estimated Conversion Chart – PSAT to SAT
Note, these numbers are based on previous figures released by the College Board and can change from year-to-year. Additionally, we want to point out that the percentile column refers to where you would rank in relation to the SAT test-taking population, not the general population.
|PSAT Score||Projected SAT Score||SAT Percentile|
If you are scoring under a 650 on the PSAT, your score is likely in the 1st percentile or lower.
PSAT to SAT Score Conversion – Predict Your SAT Score
If you are not happy with your student’s predicted SAT score based on their initial PSAT result, do not fret!
Many teens take their maiden PSAT voyage during their sophomore year or in the first semester of their junior year. They do so right in the middle of learning important academic concepts in the 10th or 11th grade classroom—essential literary and mathematical material that is tested by the College Board. Therefore, it is little surprise that research shows that students tend to improve their score as they take the PSAT/SAT multiple times.
Repeat SAT-takers see an average gain of roughly 40 points. Those who study utilizing free resources see even greater gains. For example, one study found that students who utilized a preparation tutor for 20 hours saw an average SAT gain of 115 points.
Rest assured that no matter what your PSAT score is today, hard work, test prep, and continued learning in the academic classroom can put you on a pathway toward earning the score of your dreams.