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Unofficial Thoughts on the PSAT

Who takes the PSAT?

At Tech, all 10th and 11th graders take the exam.  In 2018-19, 11th graders will take the exam on Oct 24.  10th graders will take the exam on Mar 27.  There is no fee charged to take the test.

When does the College Board announce scores?

Typically scores are posted on the College Board's website in December.  Your student has or will receive the login info.

Are PSAT scores included in a student's college application?


Why take this practice test seriously if it doesn't "count" for college?

1. The PSAT is a good chance to practice for the SAT.  Your student may also want to take a practice ACT on their own to see which test they prefer.


2. 11th graders who achieve a high score on the PSAT can qualify as National Merit Semi-Finalists, which looks good for college.  Some colleges offer scholarships to National Merit Semi-Finalists.  Students who then go on to achieve high scores on the SAT can become National Merit Finalists.

How is the PSAT scored?

Oddly, the PSAT is scored on a different scale from the SAT.

The SAT is scored out of a maximum score of 1600 (up to 800 on the math and up to 800 on the verbal section).

The PSAT is scored out of 1520 (up to 760 on math and 760 on verbal).

Why?  Good question.  A parent called the College Board and asked, but couldn't get a straight answer.  The College Board rep seemed to say that (PSAT score) * 1600 / 1520 would be a reasonable way to estimate the SAT-equivalent score.  Who knows.

One theory for the different PSAT scale is that even with no improvement in test-taking ability, a student will likely get a higher raw score on the SAT than the PSAT (because the SAT is scored out of 1600 and the PSAT is scored out of 1520).  Getting a higher raw score makes the student feel happier about the SAT (I'm improving!  I like this test!) and therefore the student might choose to take the SAT instead of the ACT.  Who knows.

How can I learn more?

The College Board's PSAT website

The College Board's student guide

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