When Are PSAT Scores Released?
For many high school students, the PSAT is their first exposure to the CollegeBoard’s standardized tests. The PSAT is much more than a practice test, however; it’s also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for students in their junior year. It’s already hard to wait for test results, but waiting is even tougher when there are scholarship opportunities on the line.
The good news is that the PSAT timeline is fairly predictable. While the CollegeBoard doesn’t publish exact score release dates, there has been very little variability over the past years. In this post, we’ll detail the PSAT timeline from start to finish.
When Do PSAT Scores Come Out?
Generally, PSAT scores are released online by mid-December. They are not all released at once though—the exact date varies according to the region where you tested. In general, test scores for states in the southwest are released first, followed shortly by states in the southeast and northeast, with midwest and west coast states trailing a few days later.
You aren’t the first person with access to your scores, however. Your guidance counselor will be able to access them online about a week before they’re available to you. This doesn’t mean that your guidance counselor will seek out every student who took the PSAT to share the news (there are often hundreds of students for one single guidance counselor), but in rare cases your guidance counselor may let you know your results ahead of time.
Once your test scores are released, you’ll be able to access them online on the College Board’s website. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one here.
In 2018, the official PSAT test date was October 10th, with the Saturday test date falling on October 13th and the alternate date falling on October 24th. 2018 PSAT test scores were released beginning December 10th and were all available by December 13th.
Planning to Take the PSAT Next Year?
The policies regarding PSAT administration vary from one school to another. At some schools, all 11th graders are required to take the test. At other schools, students must sign up individually. Some schools used to allow 10th graders to test as well, but this practice is being phased out due to the addition of the PSAT10, specifically designed for 10th graders and administered in the spring.
If you will be an 11th grader in 2019 and you want to take the PSAT, you should talk to your counselor early in the school year. Tell your counselor no later than September 1st that you wish to take the test. This is because schools must finalize their orders for testing materials by September 12th.
The official PSAT test date in 2019 is October 16th, with the Saturday test date on October 19th and the alternate test date on October 30th. Because the test dates are slightly later in 2019 than they were in 2018, it’s safe to assume that scores will also be released slightly later. In 2019 it is likely that PSAT test scores will be released beginning on December 16th, with all scores available by December 18th.
What Score Do I Need on the PSAT?
The PSAT is an important test for two reasons. First, it is a good indicator of how well you might perform on the SAT. While PSAT scoring is not identical to the SAT’s, there are similar exercises on both tests. The PSAT can highlight areas of strength and concepts that you can improve. So, there really isn’t a specific score you need. Instead, it’s more helpful to think of your PSAT scores as a starting point for SAT prep.
The other reason that PSAT is important is because it the qualifying test for National Merit Scholarships. In fact, it’s often referred to by the acronym PSAT/NMSQT. By this measure, your score really does matter, since initial screening for the scholarships is based entirely on your score.
Your score report will list your PSAT score out of a total possible 1520 points. These are not the scores that qualify you for National Merit Scholarships, though. Instead, National Merit takes your Math, Reading, and Writing subscores from the PSAT, adds them up, and multiplies them by 2. The resulting number falls between 48 and 228 and is known as your Selection Index (SI). This is the number used for National Merit cutoffs.
Minimum scores for the National Merit Scholarships vary year to year and from state to state, according to how everyone performs. You can find a helpful chart of predicted cutoff scores in our post What PSAT Score Do You Need to Qualify for National Merit?.
Generally, the top 3-4% of test takers are recognized by the National Merit Scholarship program. The majority of these receive the title of Commended Student. The top 1% scorers by state become Semifinalists, and 50% of these students become finalists. Only around 8,000 students nationwide end up receiving scholarships.
PSAT Results Are In – Now What?
National Merit Scholarships
If your score qualifies you for recognition through the National Merit program, you may have some work ahead of you before the process is over. If you advance, you’ll need to submit additional materials, including grades, SAT scores, and other important documentation of your academic and leadership skills. This includes materials similar to a college application, such as an essay and letters of recommendation. Meet with your counselor to discuss your application to optimize your shot at a scholarship.
For most students, receiving PSAT scores means you can now start your SAT prep in earnest. You now have a complete score report that highlights your strengths and weaknesses in a standardized test setting, on a test that is similar in format and content to the actual SAT. This is a huge resource, so be sure to take advantage of it. Review your score report carefully and use it to help guide your studying.
For more information on the PSAT, check out these posts:
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