Kate Sundquist 3 min read PSAT Info and Tips, Standardized Tests

What is a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore?

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Many students are anxious to predict their performance on high-stakes standardized tests, like the SAT. The PSAT, which is similar in both format and content, can often project how strong a student’s SAT scores will be. In fact, its name used to stand for the Pre-SAT, though in recent years it has simply become the PSAT.


In this post, we’ll discuss 10th grade PSAT scores and what qualifies as a high score for a 10th grader. We’ll also go into which PSAT options exist for sophomores and how scores might stack up on each. Keep reading to learn what a good score for a 10th grader is on the PSAT.


What PSATs Can a 10th Grader Take?


Prior to 2016, 10th graders only had one option for the PSAT. This option was the regular PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). The PSAT is delivered in the fall and is specifically designed for 11th graders. It is used as the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships, and is thought to be predictive of future SAT performance. 10th graders were formerly allowed to take the PSAT, and at some schools they still are. This test, however, assumes a higher level of knowledge than most 10th graders have seen in their regular coursework.


In the 2015-2016 school year, another option became available: the PSAT10. The PSAT10 is delivered in the spring and is mirrors the regular PSAT, but is designed specifically for 10th graders. As such, it is slightly easier than the regular PSAT, though it is still believed to be roughly predictive of performance on the SAT.


What is the Scoring Scale on the PSAT and the PSAT10?


The scoring scales on the PSAT and PSAT10 are the same, and they are similar to the SAT in format, but different in scale. Just like on the SAT, students receive section scores for Verbal and Math on the PSAT and PSAT10. These scores range from 160-760 on the PSAT and PSAT10, while they range from 200-800 on the SAT.


Verbal and Math section scores are added together to calculate a composite score, which is anywhere from 320-1520.


What Is a Good Score for a 10th Grader on the PSAT10 or PSAT?


The most useful way of comparing PSAT and PSAT10 scores is by looking at them in terms of percentiles. Percentile ranks tell a student the percent of other test takers who scored at or below a certain result. For example, a student who achieves a score in the 70th percentile scored as high as, or higher than, 70% of test takers.


The College Board provides these percentiles for 10th graders taking the PSAT and PSAT10.


Total Score PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 Test Taker
1430-1520 99+
1180 90
1090 80
1030 70
970 60
920 50
870 40
820 30
770 20
720 10
550 1


Looking at these numbers in context, you can consider your PSAT or PSAT10 score decent if you land in 50th percentile, meaning you scored as good as, or better than, half of the students who took the test. This correlates with a composite score of about 920. A good score is places you around the 75th percentile, which is a composite score around 1050. An excellent score will place you in the 90th percentile, which equates with a composite score of around 1180.


Of course, your performance on the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT10 will vary a little because of when you take them. A 10th grader taking the PSAT/NMSQT will do so in the fall, meaning they have completed less 10th grade coursework at the time of testing than a 10th grader who takes the PSAT10, which is administered in the spring. This means it’s normal to expect that your PSAT10 score will exceed your PSAT/NMSQT score, if you take both during the same school year. 

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How Do PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT10 Scores Correlate with Future SAT Scores?


There is no direct relationship between PSAT scores and SAT scores. Many students who do well on the PSAT go on to achieve strong SAT scores, but this is not always the case. On the other hand, many students who don’t achieve a high score on the PSAT are able to improve significantly before taking the SAT.


The bottom line is that scores from the PSAT/NMSQT and the PSAT10 should be used as data points to inform future studying. Use the tips to below to inform your SAT prep as you move on from the PSAT.


How to Use Your PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT10 Scores from 10th Grade to Improve


The score reports from the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT10 are extensive. They include subscores for each section that highlight areas of success and those for improvement. You can even use the “Your Scores: Next Steps” section to identify the specific skills that you need to work on.


Preparing for the SAT? Download our free guide with our top 8 tips for mastering the SAT.

To learn more about the PSAT, check out these CollegeVine posts:


Are PSAT Scores Related to SAT Scores?

What Does My PSAT Score Mean?

How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program 

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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.