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What Is a Good PSAT Score?
The College Board’s PSAT is a great preliminary assessment to see where you stand in terms of standardized testing. You’ll be able to use your results to refine your studying strategy and get an idea of what you may score on tests like the SAT and ACT. But as you get your test results back, you may wonder, “What is a good PSAT score?” The answer to the question can vary based on your goals for testing; everyone performs differently on tests.
To help you better understand your PSAT score, we’ve put together a list of resources to help you understand it. That includes average scores, definitions of terms, and ways that the PSAT is used. We’ll also show you the score you need to become a National Merit Semifinalist. We’ll close by showing you how to convert your PSAT score to an SAT score and some tips for improving your performance.
Related: Free SAT study resources
Definitions of PSAT score terms
Scaled total score
A scaled total score is basically your overall score; this is the metric that most directly correlates to the score you would get on an actual SAT exam. It’s a measure of your total performance that has been standardized to fit results of other PSATs. The maximum score you can earn is 1520.
Scaled section score
You will receive two scaled section scores: one for your math section, and one for “Evidence-based reading and writing,” or EBRW. Each section is worth half of your scaled total score. So, you can score up to 760 on each section. Your score will always be in ten-point increments.
Section test scores
Your section test scores will be somewhere between 8-38. These are the scores you earned on each section, but the College Board has not scaled them yet. The organization will convert them into scaled section scores. Although you only earn two scaled section scores, you’ll earn three section test scores. One will be math, which will entirely constitute your scaled section score for math. The other two will be reading and writing. The College Board will combine your reading and writing section scores to constitute your scaled EBRW score.
Raw scores show you exactly how many questions you got right in each section. You’ll get one point for each correct answer. So, you can earn a maximum of 48 in Math, 47 in Reading, and 44 in Writing. These are useful statistics for studying; you can look at your performance in each section to decide what to study for the SAT.
Don’t miss: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool
With subscores, we continue to look at your results on a more granular level. Subscores are broken down into seven categories, which are as follows:
- Preparation for Advanced Math
- Expression of Ideas
- Words in Context
- Command of Evidence
- Standard English Conventions
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis
You can receive up to 15 points in each subscore. These are very useful metrics for zeroing in on your strengths and weaknesses. As you continue to learn what you know and what you need to study, you can use your study time more effectively.
Cross-test scores pull from questions throughout the entire test that touch on themes that do not have their own section. These themes are “Analysis in Science” and “Analysis in History and Social Studies.” You can earn a maximum of 38 in these cross-tests. Even though these are not sections on the exam, they are important skills to hold, and many questions incorporate their themes.
Selection index score
This score is used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to determine who achieves eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The selection index ranges from 48-228 and is equal to the sum of your test score for Math, Reading and Writing and Language.
The qualifying selection index score you will need to be a semifinalist for the national merit scholarship will vary depending on your state. For example, in Iowa you will need a selection index score of 210-215 while in Washington you will need a selection score of 218-221 to qualify.
Your percentile score shows how well you did in relation to other people who took the same test. It is a percentile score, so somewhere between 1 and 100. Your score shows what percentage of other students you tested equal or better to. If your percentile score is 84%, you scored as well or better than 84% of people who took the test.
Don’t miss: SAT math section tips
National PSAT score averages
The average PSAT score in 2022 was approximately 920. So, to score 920 would be to achieve an average score. If you are looking to be in the 90th percentile or perform as well or better than 90% of students, you’d have had to score a 1210 or higher. But remember, a good PSAT score is all relative. What you score will depend on your own strengths and weaknesses with the material and with test-taking.
Also read: ACT vs SAT: How to decide which to take
Converting your PSAT score to an SAT score
Aside from its possibility of qualifying you for the National Merit Scholarship, the PSAT also provides an opportunity to predict your SAT score. Although the PSAT and SAT tests are not identical, they share many similarities. You can use your PSAT score to predict your SAT score fairly accurately using our conversion chart. This is a good way to get a picture of what you might score when it comes time to take the big test.
Also read: When should you take the SAT or ACT?
Qualifying as a National Merit Semifinalist
Your PSAT Selection Index Score will decide whether you qualify as a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. This score will be stacked up against the other scores in your state to determine your eligibility. Here is a list of each state’s cutoffs for the class of 2024.
|State||Selection Index Score for class of 2024|
|District of Columbia||221-224|
Also see: How to win a National Merit Scholarship
If you’re shooting to do your best on the PSAT and earn a good score, you’ll want to start studying sooner rather than later. Consider getting a test prep tutor; remember that any preparation for the PSAT will come in handy later as you prepare for the SAT. You can also check out the College Board’s free PSAT study resources on their site.
You can also check out our tips to reduce test-taking anxiety to help you show what you know when test-day rolls around. Finally, if you’re someone who has trouble taking tests, it’s good to remember that you’re not alone. There are many opportunities out there for low test takers, and we can help you find them. As you study for the PSAT, remember that it is not an end-all situation. Its main purpose is to prepare you for the SAT, which you’ll have many opportunities to retake. Good luck and happy studying!
Also see: SAT reading section tips
Frequently asked questions about PSAT scores
Can a good PSAT score guarantee a National Merit Scholarship?
How are the PSAT and SAT similar?
Should I retake the PSAT if I don’t get a “good” score?