Your PSAT Scores Are In, Now What?

High school juniors (and some sophomores) took the College Board’s PSAT in October. Scores of this Preliminary SAT will be released shortly: around December 3rd to educators and December 10th to students. So what do these scores mean and what should you do about them?

Now that your PSAT scores are in, use these tips to plan your next move.

How to interpret your PSAT score: The PSAT is scored out of 760 points per section rather than the total 800 on the SAT. This is because the PSAT is missing a few of the toughest questions from the SAT. By using this scoring system, the College Board asserts that your PSAT score is likely equivalent to what you would score on the SAT if you took it today with no further preparation. Don’t panic if you don’t like your score.Admissions officers will never see your PSAT score and you have plenty of time to prepare to improve it.

What is a good score? College Board will offer percentiles to help you get a sense of where you fall in the pool of all PSAT test takers. In addition, Summit Educational Group has posted instructions on how to interpret your new PSAT score. A piece of information listed on your PSAT score report is related to your eligibility to become a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. The National Merit Scholarship Committee determines its semifinalists based on PSAT scores from junior year. Each state has it own cut-offs based on the Selection Index listed on your report. Semifinalists are selected and notified in the fall of senior year.

Decide whether you will focus on ACT or SAT.

What should you do next:The next step is deciding which standardized test, SAT or ACT, you will focus on. Colleges do not prefer one test over the other. Once you know your PSAT score and related percentiles, we encourage you to take a full practice ACT at a local test prep center such as those offered by Summit Educational Group or Princeton Review. These are offered timed with a proctor and at no cost. Once you’ve “practiced” both test formats and seen your results, you can assess how you felt taking each test as well as how you performed, then make an educated decision about which test might be the best fit for you. Next establish a timeline for taking either the ACT or SAT two times during junior year, register for those test dates and begin preparing.

If you are still unsure, follow the sage advice of Adam Ingersoll from Compass Education Group to make your decision. Finally, use this link to view Summit Educational Group’s explanation of the most recent concordance tables for ACT and SAT scores.

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