How to Access, Understand, and Use PSAT/NMSQT Scores
How to Access, Understand, and Use PSAT/NMSQT ScoresStacy Caldwell, Vice President of College Readiness Assessments
This post originally appeared on the Forbes website on Jan. 12, 2016. Read the original here.
This past October, more than four million students — a record number — took the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) in schools across the country. Like the SAT, the test was recently redesigned to focus on the few things that matter most for college and career readiness, and to better reflect what students are learning in class.
PSAT/NMSQT Score Reports are now available online, and we want to make sure that students and educators have what they need to take advantage of the valuable information and resources the reports provide. What follows is an overview on accessing, understanding, and using PSAT/NMSQT scores, along with helpful links that provide more details.
How to Access PSAT/NMSQT Scores
Educators: The College Board recently launched a new online portal for K–12 educators. It allows educators to view information for their whole school and track individual student progress over time. Throughout the fall, instructions for creating accounts were sent to PSAT/NMSQT administrators in schools and districts across the country. Educators can go online to find out more about accessing the portal and get answers to frequently asked questions.
Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Scores
The online score reports provide students with details on how they performed on the test and what skills they might want to focus on to prepare for the SAT, college, and beyond. Below are some things that students should look for when accessing their report:
- Scores, Percentiles, and Benchmarks: Students’ scores in Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and in Math indicate how well they are prepared for college-level work. Students can compare these scores to the college readiness benchmarks provided to find out whether they’re on track to be ready for college. Test scores, cross-test scores, and subscores give students a better understanding of which specific areas they need to work on. And, percentiles show students how their scores compare with the scores of students in the same grade across the country. Find out more about understanding percentiles.
- SAT Score: The PSAT/NMSQT and the new SAT cover the same sort of content, have the same question types, and are on the same score scale. That means students who took the PSAT/NMSQT in October have already seen the types of questions they’ll see on the new SAT, and their score on the PSAT/NMSQT is what they would’ve received on the SAT if they took the test that day.
- Score Ranges: Projected score ranges show students what their scores would be if they took the SAT the following year. These scores are based on a research study of average growth and score gains for students in the same grade.
- Test Questions: Students will be able to see which questions they answered correctly or incorrectly, what the answers are, and which skills were being tested.
- National Merit Scholarship Program: Students who took the PSAT/NMSQT are automatically screened for the National Merit Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships. Their report indicates whether they’ve qualified for entry into the program.
How to Use PSAT/NMSQT Scores
In addition to details about test performance and areas for improvement, PSAT/NMSQT scores provide students with other information they can use. Students will find:
- Which AP courses are good matches for them. Taking these courses and exams lets students experience college-level work in high school and may earn them college credit.
- Free, personalized SAT practice. Students can sign up for Official SAT Practice and link their College Board and Khan Academy accounts to start preparing for the SAT based on their PSAT/NMSQT results.
- Details on college majors, scholarships, college application fee waivers, and career planning.
As we continue to make regular updates to our website, we encourage both students and educators to visit often for the latest information about the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and other College Board programs.