Utility Of PSAT Percentile Ranks

How Do PSAT Percentiles Matter to You

PSAT is a standardized exam meant to evaluate a test-taker’s knowledge in three fields. The test score determines how well the test-taker would fair in SAT and whether he deserves a National Level Scholarship. Your PSAT score is calculated on a scale of 20 to 80 points. The lowest possible score in any section is 20 and the highest is 80. In order to postulate your score, a raw score is computed in the beginning. The raw score involves the sum total of points scored from each of the three sections.

These three sections are Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing Skills. This raw score is changed into a score in the scale of 20 to 80 points. This is a statistical method, known as Equating. It reflects the percentile, which helps in gauging your performance in respect to the performance of other test-takers in previous editions of the test. The score has its own importance when it comes to judging your skills.

Why Is PSAT Percentile Important for You?

Your percentile marks let you understand how better or worse did you perform, than the others who took the test in previous editions. Following are some of the significances of the percentile:

    • The percentile marks enable the comparison between the past test-takers with those of the present. Each year, the test-takers face different version of the test. Percentile is formulated to check how the test-takers fair with each edition. For the juniors it helps in comparing with the percentile of other juniors who took the test in the past. The same comparison applies to the sophomores.
    • It reflects the differences in performance of the test-takers. In other words, it shows how fairly the test portrays the skills and capability of a test-taker. As the question types which each group of test-taker faces are more or less similar, the differences in the test performance mostly reflect a test-takers talent, dexterity and proficiency to handle serious college courses in future.
    • It shows the true difference in skill levels. This is a very crucial fact as it determines the fate of the National Merit Scholarships. This percentile makes sure the scholarship goes in the hands of only those test-takers, who justly deserve it.
    • While calculating the percentile and comparing the scores, true skill differences can be seen among the students of the same skill area. It is determined by applying the Standard Error in Difference (SED). A difference of 8 points (1.5 SED) or more indicates a true variation of skills.
    • The score reflects a reliability coefficient. The reliability coefficient is a method to judge the fluctuation of a test-taker’s skills when he takes the test more than once. Hence, if your percentile remains constant, then you will have a reliability coefficient of a perfect one, which means your skill level has remained static. Any shift upward or downward from a unit reliability coefficient shows a change in skill level.
  • Another significance is that it provides a relative score difference than absolute score difference. This increases your chance of getting your scholarship, as the NMSC officials will be able to compare your performance in a more efficient way.

The above article brings forth the importance of the percentile marking system. It shows how percentile is advantageous for the test-takers. A good percentile score is around 80th to 89th while the best is, of course, the 99th percentile.