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Last Updated: February 03, 2022

What is a Good PSAT Score?

The PSAT examination is generally taken by candidates who wish to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship test. Though only the top-tier candidates achieve this scholarship, attempting the PSAT provides every candidate with a preview into the SAT examination they will have to eventually take before their undergraduate admission. Students who attempt the PSAT will be able to identify where they will stand in the SAT since the score range of the PSAT is set 80 points lower than the SAT examination. This change in scale is set due to the relative easiness of the PSAT when compared to the SAT examination. That being said, it is also important for candidates to clear the PSAT with a high percentile in order to qualify for the prestigious scholarship.

The answer to the question regarding what a good PSAT score is will then depend on whether or not the score was enough to qualify for the National Merit scholarship. The exact score that a candidate will need to qualify changes from year to year since the candidate will have to be in the top 1 % of all juniors in the country who have taken the test.

Determining a Good PSAT Score Range

Students who take the PSAT examination, irrespective of the qualifying score for the National Merit Scholarship, will be able to determine the kind of score they will get for their SAT examination. Taking the PSAT, therefore, is beneficial for students in recognizing where they stand with the SAT requirements of their target universities. Candidates who received a PSAT score that is identical to the SAT scores required by universities or scores higher than the requirement will be easily able to crack the SAT examination.

A score in the 75th percentile or above is considered to be a good score for PSAT. This score can be anywhere above 1150 on average depending on the scores achieved by the test takers. In short, a score that can put the candidate in the 75th percentile or above will be considered to be a good score. An excellent score, on the other hand, will be the score that puts them in the top 1% of candidates who qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.

PSAT Scoring

Scoring in PSAT is similar to scoring in SAT exam with no negative marking and every correct answer providing the candidate with 1 mark. The marks received in added to get the raw score of the candidate for the said exam. The raw score that the candidate receives is then converted into a scaled score. The scaled score ranges between 160 to 760 where 760 is the highest score the candidate can receive in every section.

Students will also receive a composite score which is a combination of both the scaled scores. The composite score that is provided will be between 320 and 1520. Other scores that will be valued and added to the score report include the test scores, cross-test scores, and subscores.

The test scores correspond to the grade the candidate gets in every section and will range between 8 and 38.

The cross test score on the other hand is the score the candidate receives for their analyzing skills in Social Science and Science. This score is also provided between 8 and 38.

The subscores refer to the scores the candidate receives for their proficiency in Language and knowledge in Mathematics. The score range for this section is between 1 and 15.

PSAT Score Ranges

The PSAT examination has two sections called Evidence-based Reading & Writing and Mathematics. The score range for both these sections is the same and they add up to the total score the candidate can achieve for the exam. This total score range for the PSAT examination is between 320 and 1520. Since the division for both the sections have been done equally, the score range for each section is between 160 and 760 where the lowest score a candidate can receive is 160 and the highest score that they can receive is 760.

Interpret PSAT Scores

The PSAT score report contains different scores with most of them helping candidates understand where they stand with both the PSAT and SAT exams they will eventually take. The scores that the candidate receives for their PSAT exam will be the estimate of what they can get for their SAT exam as long as they prepare well for the same. The score report for the exam contains different scores like the test score, cross-test score, subscore, composite score, scaled score, and raw score, each of which has to be understood by the candidate to improve their performance.

The most important scores that one must check to include the percentile and the selection index score. The percentile score that the candidate receives is an indicator of where the candidate stands with the other test takers of the session. If the candidate has received a percentile score of 80, it implies that the candidate has performed better than 80% of test-takers in that particular session. The score report will contain 2 percentile scores. One of these is the Nationally Representative Sample percentile and the other is the User percentile. The first one compares the student’s performance with all the high school students who have taken the test and the User percentile deals with the actual percentile the candidate receives when compared to test takers from their same grade. Candidates should check their User’s percentile than the Nationally Representative Sample percentile.

The selection index score that is provided in the PSAT score report deals with the score the candidate has received that will qualify them for the National Merit Scholarship.

What is a Bad/Average PSAT Score?

The average PSAT score that the candidates can receive is around 920 with 460 each for the Evidence-based Reading & Writing and Mathematics sections. Receiving a score of 920 would imply that the candidate stands close to the 50th percentile. A bad PSAT score that the candidates can receive will be any score below this number. Falling beneath the 50th percentile will imply that more than 50% of test-takers who attempted in that session have performed better than the candidate in question. This effectively takes them from the tough competition at the top and places them somewhere at the bottom of the list.

Receiving a score below the 50th percentile would also imply that the candidate has to dedicate enough and more time to prepare for the SAT exam if they wish to achieve scores that are acceptable by most schools. A PSAT score is an indicator of the score range the candidate will receive in their SAT examination and receiving a low score implies that the candidate will either have to switch to taking the ACT examination or prepare hard enough to attempt the SAT exam better since it will be tougher than the PSAT.

These students will have the opportunity of retaking the PSAT examination until their 10th grade which opens up opportunities for them. If they do not wish to retake the PSAT examination, they will just have to prepare enough and attempt the SAT directly.

Comparing PSAT and SAT Scores

The PSAT examination is mostly taken by candidates who wish to understand where they will stand with the SAT exam they will eventually take or to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. If the scholarship is not one’s aim, they will have to acknowledge the fact that a PSAT score report will provide clear indicators of what the candidate can receive in their SAT examination if they prepare well enough. Since the SAT exam is relatively tough when compare to PSAT, the score provided for PSAT will be 80 points below that of the SAT making the highest score in PSAT 1520 and the highest score in SAT 1600.

Though students will not be able to compare every score that has been listed for PSAT with corresponding SAT scores, they will be able to compare the composite scores or overall scores without any conversion. But at the same time, test-takers must be aware that there is no equivalency table to compare the scores of both tests. They will only be able to take an estimate of the score they might receive will proper preparation for SAT.

Students will not be able to compare the individual section’s subscores but they will be able to check the percentile score. It will be ideal for candidates to not believe that they will easily receive a full score in SAT just because they have received 1520 in PSAT due to the relative toughness of the examination.

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