Understanding the PSAT Score Report

Many students take the PSAT in their sophomore and junior year, and some take it even earlier. However, many go into this test blind and might not know what to expect, or how to interpret, their PSAT results. Read on as we dissect the PSAT score report. In this fun installment of your friendly neighborhood tutor’s weekly wisdom info-dump, we’ll review where your PSAT scores come from and what they mean. You can follow along while reviewing your own score report, or while viewing a sample PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT score report.

PSAT Score Report Components

Your PSAT score report has many components and can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know what the names or numbers mean. On the PSAT, you get 1 point for every correct answer, and you don’t gain or lose any points for incorrect answers or questions you omit. When your results get processed, the College Board takes your raw scores (which is just the number of questions you got correct) and converts them into a scaled score. The scaled score uses a process called equating to make sure your scores are comparable to all other PSAT scores from other administrations of the test. This process allows the test to be standardized, so you can compare scores from across different versions of the test, even when the questions are different.

The most important scaled scores you’ll see are your two section scores (Evidence-Based Reading and Writing & Math), which add to make up your total score. Each section score ranges from 160-760, which means your total score can range from 320-1520. You’ll also see a percentile for each of these three scores. Percentiles range from 1-99 and indicate how your performance compares to others. For example, scoring in the 62nd percentile means you scored better than or equal to 62% of your peers. In addition to percentiles, you will also see college readiness benchmarks for your two section scores. These benchmarks will show whether the College Board believes your skills in each of the two sections are strong enough to prepare you for college.

The next three scaled scores you’ll see are your individual test scores — one for Reading, one for Writing and Language, and one for Math. Each of these test scores ranges from 8 to 38.

If you access your full score report online, you’ll also get two cross-test scores and seven subscores, which show your success on specific categories and types of questions. Ultimately, these scores matter least, though they may help you identify the questions that you’ll need to keep working on to improve your scores.

Last but not least, your score report will show you your question-level feedback: how many questions you answered correctly, incorrectly, and omitted on each of the four test sections, which ones, and whether they were easy, medium, or hard. If you are taking the PSAT in the 2020-2021 school year, your score report will not reveal the questions themselves, the correct answers, or the answer explanations.

Using Your PSAT Results

Now that you know what information you can expect to see on your PSAT score report, you’re probably wondering what you can do with it. If you’re planning on taking the SAT, you can use your PSAT scores as a baseline so you can see where you’re at and what you need to do to improve. You can read more about comparing the PSAT and SAT here, or find out more about PSAT and SAT score concordance here. If you are currently a sophomore who is hoping to use next year’s PSAT as an opportunity to become a National Merit Scholar, you can use your results to plan ahead with your studying. If you link your College Board account to your Khan Academy account, you can use your PSAT results as a jumping off point for continued practice in the various areas of the test. Although Khan Academy is a valuable resource, it isn’t the end-all-be-all of PSAT or SAT study though.

The World Beyond Your PSAT Scores

Now that you know everything there is to know about the PSAT score report, find out more about the PSAT here. And if you’re looking for some PSAT prep, you’re in the right place. You can schedule a call with one of our Program Coordinators or get started with our PSAT Premier Prep today!

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