The PSAT is administered in October, and not only can it give you a sense of your potential SAT score, but it also can help inform your preparation for an even better score. Plus, score high enough on the PSAT and you could qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. No wonder it can be an anxious wait for results!
When does the wait come to an end? How can you access and interpret your results? What should your next steps be? Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for those answers.
PSAT Results Timeline and Resources
This year, PSAT scores will be available December 11th. When they are ready, you will receive an email from the College Board that will explain how to create your College Board account and how to use it to access your online score report. Basically, you’ll log in, click on the test you took (e.g. PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT), and then view your results.
Your results will be more than just one score. You will see summaries and specific scores for each section of the test (Reading, Writing and Language, and Math), for questions with different difficulty levels, and for questions that measure different skills. In addition, you will see score ranges and percentiles that help you compare your results to your peers’ results and to your educational goals, like whether you are on track to be ready for college. Finally, results will include a National Merit Scholarship Index (each section’s test score added together then multiplied by 2) which determines your eligibility for a National Merit Scholarship. To qualify for the honor of “Commended,” scores are typically in the top 3% compared to the top 1% for semifinalists.
For a more detailed look at when to expect and how to interpret your PSAT score report as well as an overview of some of the useful tools their website offers to better understand and use your results, visit the College Board’s website.
What you do next depends on a few different factors, like what grade you were in when you took the PSAT, if you want to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, what test you want to take (SAT or ACT), and what colleges you want to apply to. A+ offers advice about choosing between the SAT and ACT, and you can visit College Navigator to explore score requirements of prospective colleges.
- For Freshmen and Sophomores. Taking the PSAT as freshmen and sophomores means having more opportunity to assess and address your strengths and weaknesses for your junior year tests. Maybe you got a 29 on Reading with your worst performance on Social Studies passages and more wrong answers on the last passage. If so, practicing Social Studies and working on time management might be good targets for your test prep. Whatever your results tell you, it’s wise to begin incorporating practice into your regular routine. This is especially true if your scores are high enough already that you can prep for the SAT/ACT sometime in the late summer or early fall of your junior year or if you plan on retaking the PSAT to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship.
- For Juniors. All juniors who took the PSAT in October, including those who scored well or above their expectations, should use their results to analyze their errors and figure out what to focus on as they prepare for the March (recommended) SAT or for an ACT test.
National Merit Scholarship
- For Freshmen and Sophomores. Since the National Merit Scholarship Index (NMSI) range to qualify as a semifinalist is usually in the low 200’s and the range to qualify for the non-scholarship designation as “Commended” is about 20 points lower, those whose PSAT scores give them an NMSI in the upper 100’s or higher should seriously consider doing test prep with the aim of retaking the PSAT as a junior in the hopes of officially qualifying for National Merit recognition.
- For Juniors. Those juniors with the potential to meet the NMSI requirement should have taken the test in October 2019 and will likely learn if they have qualified as semifinalists in September 2020. If you do, you will have to further qualify as a finalist by both applying for a scholarship and maintaining a good GPA, receiving the endorsement of a high school official, writing an essay, and earning equivalent SAT/ACT scores.
As the December 11th score release nears, remember to consider your results relative to your future goals (a 1220 might be great for someone aiming for a less selective school) and to remain optimistic that with proper preparation you can get your ideal score—one that will open doors to the scholarships and colleges you apply for as a senior.
At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware can be reached at 215-886-9188.