What Is the Scoring System for PSAT?
Popularly known as the ‘practice’ SAT, the PSAT helps many students understand the SAT exam pattern and how they need to go about preparing for it. The scores they receive are an indicator of their individual capabilities as well as where they stand if compared to their peers who also have taken the PSAT. Like the SAT, this is a paper-pencil test of two hours and ten minutes, comprising of the same three sections as the SAT, namely, Critical Reading, Math and Writing. The exam is literally ‘halved’ of the SAT and the components are further divided into 5 sections. All the three sections get scored out from 20-80 and the final PSAT score is out of 240.
Administered by high-schools only, the PSAT is not conducted by test centers as is the case of the SAT. Registration for the PSAT is also done through the high-school and not online. The Exam is generally conducted twice a year and the dates fall in mid-autumn, usually in the month of October. The PSAT score report is made available to the high-schools which then distribute it to the students. The PSAT score report is not mailed to the students’ homes.
What is the PSAT?
The PSAT/NMSQT or the Preliminary SAT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test is a test conducted by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). As the name suggests, it is a preliminary SAT exam meant to lend first-hand practice to students who want to take the SAT later in their senior year. This exam also allows the NMSC to see which 11th grade students qualify for the National Merit Scholarship to colleges and universities. A certain PSAT score is kept as the minimal score for eligibility to the national merit scholarship program. Most students in their 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th grade take the PSAT to gain an understanding of where they stand in terms of skills needed for college study and those in the 11th grade, being eligible to try for the scholarship, take the exam to compete for the same.
How Do I Get Scored on the PSAT?
The PSAT/NMSQT includes five sections, namely, two 25 minutes Critical Reading sections, two 25 minutes Math sections and one 30 minutes Writing skills section. The whole test is for two hours and 10 minutes. Each of the three components gets a PSAT score of out of 80 and the final PSAT score is out of 240. The questions are a mixture of multiple-choice based questions and student-response based questions. There is no essay in the Writing section unlike the SAT which has one.
The PSAT score is reported on a scale of 20 to 80 and the final score report contains the Selection Index (sum of the three scores in each test section), which determines eligibility for the NMSC programs and it ranges from 60 to 240. The Selection Index is applicable only to 11th graders as they are the ones who can apply for the NMSC program and the average Selection Index for them is about 141. The PSAT score report is also a tool for students to compare their scores with other test-takers as the PSAT score report also contains the national percentiles of other students (of the same grade) who have taken the PSAT.
How can I do well at the PSAT?
The first step for any test taker is to obtain the Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT from their high-school. The three sections will guide the applicant through the test-taking process and the NMSC programs and enable the applicant to take a full-length practice test to gauge his/her abilities and what he/she needs to lay focus on while preparing for the PSAT. Staying current with school work and having a habit of reading, are also a good way to prepare for the PSAT. The College Board website lends more information on this, and applicants are welcome to look for the information they need.
Applicants planning to take the PSAT should know that although it is not the real deal, it is very much a real wake-up call to start SAT prep. It is also a good opportunity to get a scholarship and get funding for your college studies. The College Board website for PSAT has a lot of helpful information for applicants to know more on the PSAT/NMSQT.
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