PSAT Score Interpretation





What Do PSAT Scores Represent

About the PSAT Scores:

The PSAT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test (NMSQT) is a competitive exam for the students to get ready for the SAT and it is a competition among the eleventh-graders for the scholarship programs granted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The PSAT score is given in a percentile basis. Your PSAT score interpretation is very important as it portrays your performance as compared to the other test takers’. The PSAT has three sections namely the Critical Reading, the Math and the Writing Skills sections. PSAT score interpretation involves in postulating your score in these three sections of the PSAT. Your score will be marked on a scale of 20 to 80 in these three sections. The total score in PSAT being 240, your percentile ranking will be calculated on a scale of 60 to 240, where 60 is the minimum and 240 is the maximum marks you will score in PSAT.

What Are the Information Reflected Through Your PSAT Score?

There are several processes of PSAT score interpretation. Each of these processes seeks to portray a particular aspect of the test-taker. However, the basic essence of the PSAT score interpretation is to show a comparison of your performance with other test-takers’ performance in the same edition of the PSAT. Following are three ways, used in PSAT score interpretation, each exhibiting specific features about your PSAT score:

  • Selection Index (SI): the Selection Index or the SI shows whether you are eligible for the NMSC (National Merit Scholarship Corporation) programs. Only the eleventh-grader test-takers are eligible for the NMSC programs. The Selection Index is the sum of what you get in total, in three SAT sections. It is calculated by adding up the scores you get in Critical Reading, Math and the Writing Skills. The average SI for the year 2010 was 141 (47 in CR+ 49 in M and 45 in W). The minimum SI of a test-taker is 201. This is the cut-off score for being eligible in the NMSC competition. Hence, it is important that you have a higher SI in order to have hope of getting a scholarship.

  • Percentile Ranking: this is perhaps the most important aspect of PSAT score interpretation. The percentile score provides you the score rank or the rank at which your score lies. It is equal to a grade level based on your score in PSAT. In order to understand the percentile scoring, you need to understand that your score is being compared with that of others who sat for the same edition of PSAT/NMSQT. Your percentile ranking being at 56 means, you have done better than 55 other test-takers while you are behind 44 other test-takers. A better way to understand the percentile ranking is to imagine you standing in a line of 100 test takers. If you have a percentile ranking of 56, then you are standing in front of 55 other test-takers while you are behind 44 test-takers who scored more than you. The percentile ranking helps in PSAT score interpretation as it reflects your SAT readiness and your deserving qualities for scholarships.

  • Another process of PSAT score interpretation is the process of using score ranges. The score ranges, calculated based on your PSAT score shows your possible performances in future PSAT. It shows how much your score may fluctuate if you take PSAT again and again. It foretells about your future performances in the PSAT.

An important thing to note about the PSAT percentile ranking is that, if you take the PSAT in your eleventh grade, you will receive a junior percentile while if you are taking PSAT below the eleventh grade or even younger, you shall receive the sophomore percentile. The PSAT score shows your capability to get scholarships for college courses and your ability to take SAT. PSAT score interpretation helps you gauge your own skill levels and seeks to give you a picture of your performance in the competitive exams.




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