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Monday, December 16, 2013

How to Read the PSAT Score Report

Many high school sophomores and juniors sat for the PSAT exam in October. This month those scores will be sent out to schools for distribution to students. After students get the access code from the report, they can log onto the College Board's My College Quick Start for an analysis of skills and a review of their answers for each question.

Colleges DO NOT see PSAT scores- they really are intended as a practice for the SAT. By adding a zero to the end of each PSAT score, students can translate the PSAT results into an SAT score. According to the College Board, in 2012, scores for juniors came in at approximately 48 in critical reading, 49 in mathematics, and 47 in writing skills. Scores for sophomores were approximately 43 in critical reading, 44 in mathematics, and 42 in writing skills.

NOTE to Sophomores- the PSAT is designed for juniors, but you can get an idea of how your score compares to other sophomores through your percentile. If your percentile is low, you may want to consider some form of test prep this summer to prepare for taking the PSAT next October and the SAT the following winter or spring.

NOTE to Juniors- Some high-scoring juniors may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. This could lead to money for college. Juniors with low PSAT scores may want to consider test prep for the SAT, or should look into taking the ACT instead. Juniors can also make sure they include test-optional colleges on their college target list.

The PSAT report is simply a tool that students can use to identify areas for improvement as they look toward planning a standardized testing schedule as part of college planning. It is not a replica of the SAT as it is a shorter exam and does not include an essay writing
piece. I advise parents and students to use the information that is helpful from the PSAT score report, while not getting too focused on the raw numbers. It really is just another piece of the college planning puzzle.