College Prep Results

Is Your PSAT Score “Good”?


 

My last post discussed how to use PSAT scores.  Today I want to address the issue on most parents’ and students’ minds when they receive scores – “It is good?”

Each section of the PSAT is scored on a scale of 20 to 80; SAT sections are scored from 200 to 800.  By adding a zero to your PSAT scores, you can estimate your SAT results.  Unlike many tests, there is no passing or failing score on the PSAT / SAT.

A “good” score depends on two factors:

  1. Your past performance.
  2. The colleges and universities you want to attend.

A student who is a great test taker will expect higher results than the student who has always struggled with tests.  The vocabulary and grammar superstar will expect higher results in Reading and Writing than in Math.  So what is “good” for one student may not be seen as “good” by another.

The second measure is what your potential colleges and universities want.  I live in Texas, so let’s use some Lone Star State examples.  A “67” in Reading is an above average score for University of Houston and on the high end of average for Texas A&M.  Unfortunately, that same “67” would be below average at Rice.  Again, what is “good” will vary.

Keeping these two factors in mind, here are some guidelines for your PSAT scores:

Scores in the 20s-30s

These scores are below average.  They may reflect a student’s struggle with a particular subject, but can also be a result of difficulty with test taking strategy (answering too many or too few questions; working too fast; not taking the PSAT seriously; or failure to understand the grading penalty for incorrect answers.)  Students with these scores need help to prepare for the SAT.

Scores in the 40s-50s

These scores are average.  The typical score (mean, median, and mode) for sophomores is in the mid 40s and for juniors is right around 50.  I know most students don’t like the idea of being average, but an average score indicates a solid foundation and good room for improvement.

Scores in the 60s-70s

Congratulations!  These scores are above average and reflect both test taking ability and mastery of the academic areas tested.  Students with scores in this range may qualify for National Merit Scholarships.  Qualifying scores are set each year to represent the top 3% of test takers and vary by state.  Last year the qualifying score in Texas was a selection index of 219 (equivalent to a 73 in each section –Reading, Math, and Writing).

Finally, the PSAT is intended to be a learning tool.  If your scores weren’t ideal, you know what to work on and if you did well, you have a good idea of what to expect on the SAT.

 

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