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How To Decipher Your PSAT Score Report

nmqts psat psat/nmqts sat study for sat Jan 11, 2018

Taking PSAT is one step in preparing for the SAT.  It's also the test used to determine if you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program.  A test for sophomores (the PSAT 10) will be offered by some schools between the end of February and early March.  PSAT/NMSQT scores are made available online. 

Follow these steps to make the most of the PSAT: 

  1. Set up your free online student account to access your PSAT/NMSQT test scores.
  2. Set up an account with Kahn Academy.  Kahn Academy provides study guides and personalized practice tools fo r the SAT.   
  3. Learn more about the National Merit Scholarship that is a part of the PSAT. (NMSQT = National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)
  4. Read the College Board article on understanding your scores - score calculations, score ranges, percentiles and college readiness benchmarks. 

Viewing Scores

The College Board has aligned the PSAT scores with the SAT scores. You can use your PSAT test scores to learn more about how you might do on the upcoming SAT tests.  Because now there are a LOT of scores on the test, how do you know which scores to pay attention to?

Here are some tips for you. When viewing your score report, focus on:

Raw scores.  Look at your Reading/Writing score, your math score, and total score. 
Ignore percentiles.  This is a new test- the percentiles are research-based only. Don’t worry about the percentiles.

Check your NMSC Selection Index. Is there an asterisk (*) next to it? 

College and Career Readiness Benchmarks 

Don’t spend a lot of time worrying about where you are on the benchmarks.  Make a count of how many you have in the following benchmark areas: 

Green (meets or exceeds benchmark)  

Yellow (approaching benchmark)  

Red (need to strengthen skills)

Get Advice from the Experts on Benchmarks 

Talk to your counselor or advisor about recommendations to move your red and yellow benchmarks into green. 

Using Sub Scores 

Find the section of your score report, Your Scores: Next Steps. This is a great resource for you, showing what you are already able to do. It also includes suggestions for improving your skills. These suggestions become the beginning of the Kahn Academy personalized preparation plan.   

The scores are broken into: 

1. Reading Test

2. Writing and Language Test

3. Math Test 

Study Smarter, not Harder 

If you use your PSAT scores for preparation for the SAT, you will be studying smarter, not harder. Reviewing your PSAT scores will save you hours of studying for the SAT by showing you where you need to focus your preparation.  Go over your PSAT scores with parents, counselors and teachers. Use this to create a personalized, study plan for the SAT. 

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