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What Your PSAT Scores Mean

The PSAT test is more important than most people think – most notably, it is how National Merit Scholars are determined. But it has another important purpose – and that is to help kids see how they will do on the SAT – and what they need to focus on to improve their score.

Your score will come in three components:

  1. Critical reading
  2. Math
  3. Writing

The test is scored according to the following formula, taking into account correct, incorrect and unanswered questions:

Correct answers

1 point added

Wrong answer to multiple choice

¼ point deducted

Wrong answer to math grid-ins

0 points deducted

Unanswered questions

0 points deducted

And that’s where the key part comes in: Rather than just accepting your score as an indicator of your SAT success, realize that is merely a starting point. It provides a road map to the next step, which is delving deeper into your scores and realizing where you need to study.

PSAT ScoresA Special Note for Tenth Graders:

Many schools have kids take the PSAT in the 10th grade, to get a feeling for it before it “counts” as juniors toward National Merit Scholar eligibility. It’s important for sophomores to remember that the test is aimed at an 11th grade level, so if it seems hard, that’s ok! Just think how much more they will know the next year!

Rather than looking at the score, it’s a good idea to look at the percentiles, which will compare your score with other 10th graders. It’s a more accurate predictor of where you are in relation to other students.

It’s important use the scores as a guide to know which areas might be weaker and need extra studying, rather than to feel deflated that the performance wasn’t as good as you’d hoped. There is no drawback to taking the test in 10th grade, if you view it as a motivator rather than a detractor.

So, good luck to all the sophomores and juniors taking the PSAT this October. For some quick reviews on test-taking skills, check out the following posts: The Only SAT Strategy You’ll NeedNine Things Never to do on Test DayOvercome Test Anxiety With These 10 Tips.

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