Many students take the PSAT each year, from freshmen to juniors. There are a variety of reasons students take the test.
Some want to prepare for the SAT by taking the PSAT, and others are trying to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Either way, it’s important to understand what’s a good PSAT score.
PSAT Score Range
On the regular SAT, the top score is 1600, but on the PSAT, the top is 1520. A student can score anywhere from 320 to 1520 on the exam.
Besides the score itself, you want to pay attention to the percentile ranks. This helps you understand how your student scored against folks in their own grade. You definitely want your student to be in the top 50%, and preferably higher than that.
What is a Good PSAT Score
A decent PSAT score is right around the 50th percentile, meaning that your student did better than half their peers. This would be around a 910 for sophomore students and near a 970 for juniors. This is the threshold for “your student will probably do well enough on the SAT to get into some four-year schools.”
A good PSAT score is closer to the 75th percentile, which means your student did better than 75% of their peers. For a sophomore that’s a score of around 1050, and for juniors it’s near 1150. A score like this means that your student will do well enough on the SAT to get into a moderately competitive school.
A very good PSAT is in the 95th percentile, where your student scored better than 95% of their peers. This equates to an SAT score that would likely win admission into a top 50 school, with admission rates in the 20% – 40% range. For the PSAT, this would be around a 1250 for a sophomore or a 1350 for a junior.
Finally, an excellent score is in the 99th percentile, where your student is in the top 1% of test takers. This represents an SAT score good enough to get into elite schools, given that other criteria are met as well. An excellent PSAT score is a 1360 for a sophomore or a 1450 for a junior.
Winning a National Merit Scholarship
Some students are looking for a score that’s good enough to win a National Merit Scholarship. A National Merit designation wins your student some money for school and helps them get excellent merit aid at a variety of colleges.
The standard for National Merit varies by state, so be sure to research what your state requires. Getting an excellent PSAT score is only one step in the process, which also includes an application and a requirement for a recommendation from the high school principal or designee.
If you’re looking to get an excellent score on the PSAT, it pays to prepare. You can use PSAT or SAT study materials, and take advantage of free online resources as well.
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