PSAT Scores Percentiles

How Do Colleges Use PSAT Percentiles

PSAT scores percentiles are an important aspect for securing scholarships for your college education. PSAT scores percentiles also help you to understand your level of preparedness for the SAT test. Thus, it is also a measure of your college readiness.

What Is PSAT Score

The PSAT scores percentiles is an important measurement of your aptitude to pursue college education. It is also important from the scholarship perspective because it qualifies you to enter the scholarship programs. The PSAT scores range from 20-80. The higher you score, the better your chances of securing a scholarship to fund your college education. In addition, you are more equipped to take the SAT test; it allows you more time to practice as you near the SAT test date.

The PSAT score is closely linked to the SAT scoring method. The SAT score scale is in the range of 200-800. Thus, it is a popular practice for students who take the PSAT to add a zero at the end of their score to estimate the scores they are likely to achieve in the SAT test. This is an effective way to understand how well prepared you are and then take efforts to improve on areas where you need to.

When your answer sheets are evaluated, the raw scores are computed first by totalling the scores in each section. The total scores are then mapped on the PSAT score conversion scale to arrive at your final PSAT scores percentiles. The following table highlights the top PSAT scores and the kind of scores you need to achieve in each section.


PSAT Scores

Critical Reading


Writing Skills


















For more information about the PSAT conversion table, see the Understanding PSAT NMSQT Scores booklet. You can download the booklet from the College Board site The booklet also includes information about understanding percentiles, the Selection Index, how the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) uses the Selection Index, and other useful information.

PSAT Percentiles

PSAT scores percentiles are used to compare your performance with those of juniors and sophomores. PSAT scores percentiles indicate the percentage of students whose scores fall below each specified score.

The PSAT scores percentiles are also reported on your score report. For example, if you are a junior, your score report will include percentiles for juniors. Thus, your PSAT scores will be compared with the performance of other juniors who took the PSAT test. Similarly, if you are a sophomore student, your PSAT scores percentiles will be compared with other sophomores. A sample list of percentiles is provided in the table below:



Critical Reading


Writing Skills













Relation between PSAT Score and PSAT Percentile

The PSAT scores are evaluated and totalled for each section in the test: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing Skills. Similarly, the PSAT percentiles are based on the sum of critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills scores taken from the scores of other juniors or sophomores who appeared for the PSAT/NMSQT test. The higher your score, you are placed amongst the higher bracket of students.


As is evident, there is a close relationship between your PSAT score and the PSAT percentile. Your PSAT scores put you in the bracket of high or low PSAT percentiles based on your performance. If you do not score well, you will be in the lower range and your chances of securing a scholarship are minimized. Scoring well allows you the opportunity of competing for scholarships amongst other students. Thus, if you score well in your PSAT, you raise your Selection Index and your percentiles. If your Selection Index places you amongst the 55,000 top scorers, you can be hopeful to achieve a scholarship.

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