What is a Good Score on the PSAT?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of an unidentified person answering an exam.

What is a Good Score on the PSAT?

What is a good PSAT score? To prepare for the SAT, many students take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) while in high school. However, to be eligible for the renowned National Merit Scholarship, students must take the PSAT in the 11th grade. Understanding what constitutes a good PSAT score is essential for students to determine the level of effort required to achieve a satisfactory result.

What Exactly is the PSAT?

The Preliminary SAT is a practice version of the SAT exam. It is also known as the PSAT/NMSQT, which stands for the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) is only offered once a year, therefore most students take it while they are in the 10th and 11th grades. If you take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) in the spring of your junior year and achieve a high score, you may be eligible for a National Merit Scholarship.

Unknown student writing on her table.

Each year, students are granted a total of 180 million dollars in merit-based scholarships. This is the reason why many ask what is a good score on the PSAT. Reading, writing, and mathematics are all covered during the course of the PSAT, which lasts for a total of two hours and forty-five minutes. On the PSAT, as opposed to the SAT, the maximum score that may be achieved is 1520.

So, What is a Good PSAT Score?

A composite score of 1070 or above on the PSAT is considered to be good. This places you in the top 25 percent of all test takers for the PSAT. The PSAT scoring process can be rather involved, so it is essential to have a solid understanding of how it functions. After completing the PSAT, you will receive a score ranging from 8 to 38 on each of the three tests (Reading, Writing & Language, and Math) as well as a score ranging from 160 to 760 for Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and for Math.

These scores will be used to help determine your eligibility for college. Your final score on the PSAT will fall somewhere in the range of 320 to 1520 and is determined by summing the numbers from your two separate section scores. Moreover, aside from what is a good score on the PSAT, we’ll also provide a breakdown of the PSAT score ranges so that you can analyze the PSAT score percentiles and determine what a decent score on the PSAT is.

What is a Good PSAT Score Based on Percentiles?

In the report of your PSAT scores, you will see a percentile ranking that places you in relation to everyone else who took the PSAT in that given year. With all of this, you will surely wonder what is a good PSAT score based on percentiles. The percentile indicates the proportion of students who received scores that were either comparable to or lower than your own.

For instance, if you are in the 80th percentile, it means that you scored at the same level as or higher than 80 percent of all of the people who took the test. The higher the percentage, the greater the number of other students whose grades you have surpassed. If you had a score that was higher than the 50th percentile, it indicates that you performed better than the majority of people who took the test. Therefore, a score that is considered to be “excellent” would likely fall somewhere between the 75th and 90th percentiles.

Group of students writing on their desks.

The percentile rankings for PSAT scores shift subtly from year to year and depend on the group that is being tested. A score of 590 on the EBRW, 570 on the Math section, and 1150 overall are equivalent to scoring in the 75th percentile for test takers in the 2020-21 school year.

99+ 1490-1520 760 750-760
99 1460-1480 750 730-740
95 1360-1370 690-700 690
90 1280 640 650-660
85 1230 610 630
80 1190 580-590 610
75 (good) 1150 570 590
50 (median) 1000-1010 490 510

What is a Good PSAT Score Based on Academic Benchmarks?

Aside from the percentiles mentioned above, your PSAT score report from the College Board will offer benchmarks that will assist you in determining where your results fall in relation to those of other individuals who took the exam. Students are able to measure their readiness for college as well as their potential performance on standardized tests with the help of benchmarks.

“The SAT benchmark scores represent a 75% likelihood of a student achieving at least a C grade in a first-semester, credit-bearing college course in a related subject,” as stated by the College Board. “The SAT benchmark scores represent a 75% likelihood of a student achieving at least a C grade in a related subject.”

Your performance is represented by benchmarks that are color-coded green, yellow, and red respectively. Scores that are green either meet or surpass the benchmark, scores that are yellow indicate that they were near to meeting the benchmark and are likely to improve within one year, and scores that are red show that they will require significant improvement in order to meet the criteria.

A Math score of at least 510 and an EBRW score of at least 460 are required to meet the criteria for the green benchmarks.

510-760 460-760 970-1520
480-500 430-450 910-950
160-470 160-420 320-890

What is a Good PSAT Score for the National Merit Scholarship?

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) awards scholarships to the top one percent of junior semifinalists each year. To be eligible for one of these awards, your score must be in the 99th percentile or higher. Fewer than eight thousand of those students will end up being awarded a scholarship.

The NMSC will determine the semifinalists for scholarships based on their score on the Selection Index. To determine your Selection Index, sum up your raw results (not your scaled scores) on the math, reading, and writing portions of the test. These values are based on a scale that ranges from 8 to 38. After that, multiply the final total by two. The total score on the Selection Index might range anywhere from 48 to 228.

Unidentified person answering a test.

The minimum qualifying score for semifinalists varies somewhat from state to state and might be anywhere from 209 to 222 points. So, what is a good score on the PSAT? In order to be taken into consideration for the National Merit Scholarship Program, you will need to get a minimum score of 35 on each of the three portions of the test.

Why Take the PSAT?

Students take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) while they are still in high school, typically in the middle of their sophomore or junior year. We have provided a list below with four justifications as to why you should take the PSAT.

The PSAT is a Test Run for the SAT

You can get a head start on the SAT and ACT by taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) when you’re still in high school. This gives you the opportunity to practice for the more important college entrance examinations that you’ll have to take later on in your high school career.

You will have the opportunity to become accustomed to the types of questions that are seen on standardized tests and evaluate how well you perform under the pressure of stringent time limitations while a proctor is present.

Your PSAT Score Can Guide Your SAT Test Prep

In addition to your overall results, you will also receive subscores that provide a more in-depth analysis of how well you performed on the PSAT. Your preparation for the ACT and SAT exams will benefit from this in-depth study because it will help you better understand your strong and weak points.

a smiling college student holding her phone and credit card

You will also receive a percentile ranking after completing the PSAT, which will enable you to compare your results to those of other juniors in high school who have taken the test. For instance, a student who gets a percentile of 63 has gotten a score that is higher than the scores of 63 percent of the people who took the test that year.

The PSAT Helps You Stand Out to Colleges

There are a lot of colleges that buy lists of kids who have achieved high scores and then push those students to apply. If you obtain a high score on the PSAT, universities may take note of you and provide you with additional opportunities, such as free dinners and application cost waivers during college visits.

A Good PSAT Score can Qualify You for Scholarships

You can become eligible for a number of different scholarship programs by taking the PSAT, the most notable of which is the National Merit Scholarship Program. Your score on the PSAT that you took in your junior year will determine whether or not you are eligible for a National Merit Scholarship.

The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) or the PSAT 10 may be made available to sophomores at some schools or districts in the month of October or in the spring of their sophomore year, respectively. This is a great opportunity to get some additional practice in and get a preview of how you might perform when it actually counts in junior year.

Do Colleges Care About Your PSAT Score?

The majority of universities are not aware of the results that you received on the PSAT. Your PSAT scores will not be sent to institutions, nor will they be considered for making admissions decisions. Students mostly take the PSAT so they may gauge how well prepared they are for the SAT as well as courses at the college level.

This honor should be included in your college application, and it can make you a more competitive applicant if your PSAT results qualify you to be a National Merit semifinalist (top 1% of test-takers) or a commended student (top 3-4% of test-takers). If you don’t do well on the SAT or ACT, institutions won’t even bother considering your application.

If you need help in acing your PSAT and SAT, you’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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