By mid-December, high school juniors should be receiving their PSAT results from the October test. True, some sophomores also took that test as the PSAT, and PSAT10 are the same test. In fact, there is an additional time for sophomores to take the PSAT. Some high schools offer that 10th grade test, the PSAT10, but not all opt to offer it in the spring.
Ask a student how they scored and, for example, they could say “on the English I scored a 480, and on the math section, the score was 550 for a total of 1030.” That is as far as it goes. That student hardly looked at the results after knowing their score.
Back in the old days, only high school juniors took the PSAT. Then, the students knew where they stood prior to taking the SAT that year for the first time. In time, since the PSAT exam was a practice test, why not take it even earlier in high school? So, the onslaught began with many high school students other than juniors taking the test. Finally, the College Board designed a new version of the test titled PSAT8/9, appropriate for grades 8 and 9. Not all high schools or middle schools administer that exam.
Many students would state that the PSAT doesn’t count. Yes, it’s true, colleges do not see the PSAT scores. But colleges buy PSAT scores, so they can send emails or mail to students. Then students begin to hear from colleges, some of which they never had on their radar. Again, colleges are not using those scores in the admission process. In fact, they don’t know your actual score; they only know you fell in a certain range of scores that interest them.
For the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the scores are the only factor for students who are juniors to enter the competition. Later, other factors such as grades could eliminate a student. So, for high scoring students, it counts. You will see your National Merit selection score(index) and other information on your feedback.
Lazy students will stop just knowing their evidence-based reading and writing (EBRW) score and their math score. But scores do count if the student reviews the test they have now obtained. You can even get your score online. Be careful, the score will be a little different than the SAT, where the score ranges from 400 to 1600 for the two sections of the test. On the PSAT, the score range for the EBRW and math is 160 to 760.
The total score goes from 320 to 1520, not 400 to 800. Why is it different? The College Board can then give you a better prediction of where you might score on the SAT. Your score will let you know where you stand on your readiness for college. What are those sub-scores? For example: the reading score ranges from 8 to 38. Well, some colleges in the state of Georgia are now using those scores that appear on the real SAT for admissions purposes. Sitting with some admissions officials this past summer, I learned of this reading score as a big factor in admissions. When your questions and answers are available, you can start to analyze your score. You will get your test booklet back from your testing site. You will see your answers, the correct responses and the difficulty of the question, whether it was easy, medium or hard. In the math section, it will also be broken down into calculator and non-calculator questions.
The PSAT 10 for sophomores is on the same scale as the PSAT. Additional skills and improvement suggestions will be found on your online score report. Take advantage of this feature.
Review each question and your answer, especially those you didn’t answer correctly or didn’t answer at all. To really learn from your incorrect answers, you should take advantage of resources recommended by the College Board. Certainly, there are tutors in the area who can help. There are also online courses to assist you. But, use your PSAT report to help gain a higher score on one of the upcoming SAT tests, which do count. If you do nothing but know your score, how are you going to do better on the SAT? Certainly, good grades in school can help you as you prepare for national tests.
Dr. Mark Fisher is a college and career consultant at Fisher Educational Consultants (www.fishereducationalconsultants.com) and a consultant for the College Planning Institute (www.GotoCPI.com).