What Is a Good PSAT Score?

what is a good psat score

For many students, the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is taken at least once in high school to prepare for the SAT.

However, those who take the PSAT in 11th grade are eligible for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.

Understanding what is a good PSAT score will help you and your student decide what level of effort he/she should commit to in trying to achieve a good enough score.

What Is a Good PSAT Score in 2021?

A good PSAT score may look different for students in different grade levels. 

What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Freshman? 

It is less common to take the PSAT as a freshman than as a sophomore or junior. However, beginning the PSAT journey in your child’s first year of high school can help them know what areas they should practice to achieve their best score possible by junior year. 

Your child’s percentiles can give you a good idea of how well they did on the PSAT freshman and sophomore year.

According to PrepScholar, a good PSAT score can be defined by being at or above the 75th percentile, meaning your student scored better than 75 percent of students who took the PSAT in their grade level.

According to CollegeVine, a score of 1440 will land your freshman in the 99th percentile. 

PSAT 8/9 Total Score Percentile
1440 99+
1320 99
1200 97
1100 90
1000 78
900 59
800 37
700 16
600 3
500 1

What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore?

The test taken in your child’s sophomore year is the last opportunity to practice for the PSAT before the score is considered for the National Merit Scholarship.  A score of over 1000 is commendable for 10th graders aiming for the 75th percentile.

Sophomore Total Score for PSAT and PSAT 10 Percentile
1520 99+
1400 99
1300 97
1200 91
1100 81
1000 65
900 47
800 28
700 8
600 1

What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Junior?

Like freshman and sophomore year, a good PSAT score junior year can be defined as a score at or above the 75th percentile. This equates to 570 on math and 590 on reading and writing, or 1150-1160 total, according to PrepScholar. 

According to CollegeVine, a score of 1520 will land your child in the 99th percentile, making them more likely to be in the running for a National Merit Scholarship. 

What Percentile Do You Have to Be in to Be a National Merit Scholar?

While a PSAT score in the 75th percentile is considered good, to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, your child will need to score higher.

To be named a Commended Scholar, your student must score in the top three to four percent of test-takers. To be named a Semifinalist, your child must score in the top one percent of test-takers.

The selection index for test scores varies by testing year and state. 

To calculate your child’s selection index for the PSAT, add their three test scores together and multiply the total by two. Typically, your child will need a selection index of 209 or higher to qualify for National Merit Semifinalist status.

As this number varies by year and state, scoring a few points higher than your state’s cutoff helps ensure your child will qualify. 

Do Colleges Look at the PSAT?

According to CollegeVine, colleges do not look at PSAT scores. Laura Berlinsky-Schine states that “in most cases, just you and your high school are able to see the report.”

If your child qualifies for National Merit in 11th grade, their scores in each section of the PSAT may be submitted to qualify for a variety of scholarships. 

With consistent practice and an understanding of the test, your child can be successful in taking the PSAT, be prepared for the SAT, and may reap the additional benefits of being a National Merit Scholar.  

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