Are PSAT Scores Related to SAT Scores?

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As you prepare to take the PSAT or review your scores, you may be wondering: Just what do these scores tell me? Do they suggest anything about my future SAT performance? Read on to find out the relationship between PSAT and SAT scores and what you should expect.

 

What Is the PSAT?

 

An acronym for the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, the PSAT also serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). It is usually taken in the first semester of 11th grade, although newer versions available are available for younger students, including the PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9 available for the corresponding grades.

 

This test does serve as practice for the SAT, while also revealing where and how you should be focusing your studying, practice, and review for the latter test. Colleges will not see your PSAT scores, but most will consider your SAT scores.

 

Similarities Between PSAT and SAT Scores

 

Both the tests cover the same categories: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. Your scores will correspond to percentiles; for example, if you are in the 95th percentile for EBRW, that means you performed better than 95 percent of test takers.

 

You will also see your subscores for skills including Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math.

 

Both sets of standardized test scores may automatically qualify you for college scholarships.

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Differences Between the PSAT and SAT

 

Score ranges are different for the two tests. For the PSAT, composite scores range from 320-1520, while SAT composite scores range from 400-1600. The SAT includes an optional essay, scored between 2-10, which does not appear of the PSAT.

 

The PSAT also offers College Readiness Benchmarks, which indicate how prepared you are for a college curriculum, in your score report. These benchmarks can be interpreted accordingly:

 

  • Green: Your score meets or exceeds the benchmark.
  • Yellow: Your score is approaching the benchmark.
  • Red: You need to strengthen skills in this area.

 

Remember that your skills will improve as you take more classes and increase your knowledge, but you should still aim to meet or exceed these benchmarks.

 

What Does It All Mean?

 

Your performance on the PSAT does not necessarily serve as an indication of how you will do on the SAT. The most important takeaway from your score report is the skills you should focus on honing. For example, if you don’t meet the College Readiness Benchmark for Command of Evidence, that means you should be working on interpreting evidence in the context of passages, practicing reading complex passages and identifying the important details and how the author is using information to formulate her argument.

 

On the flip side, if, say, you were in the 95th percentile for Math, you shouldn’t assume that you can ignore practicing for the SAT Math section. You should continue to review your skills, even if you’re happy with your PSAT scores. Also, remember that the SAT will cover higher-level knowledge since most students are further along in their coursework when they take the SAT for the first time than they were when they took the PSAT. You need to continually review higher-level concepts.

 

You should also be practicing for the PSAT. Remember that it’s not just for practice—it can qualify you for scholarships, including the National Merit Scholarship.

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.