Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Scores
Student score reports include a score for each section of the test — Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing Skills. These section scores are on a scale of 20 to 80. Find out how a student’s answers become a score and how to understand the meaning of a score.
The scores included on score reports are based on raw scores. To arrive at a raw score, correct, incorrect, and unanswered questions are counted. Points are added or subtracted using the following rules:
|Answer Type||Point Value|
|Correct answer||Plus 1 point|
|Wrong answer to multiple-choice questions||Minus 1/4 point|
|Wrong answer to math grid-ins||0 points deducted|
|Unanswered question||0 points deducted|
Converting Raw Scores
Next, the raw score is converted to a score on a scale of 20 to 80. This process, called equating , adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between various versions of the test (such as the Wednesday form and the Saturday form). Equating ensures that a score of, say, 65 on one form reflects a similar level of performance as does a 65 on another form. There is no advantage or disadvantage in taking the test on a Wednesday or a Saturday or taking an alternate version.
Score ranges show the extent to which a student's score might change with repeated testing, assuming that the student's skill level remains the same.
No test measures precisely what someone knows and many factors can affect a student’s results. It’s helpful to think of each score as a range that extends from a few points below to a few points above the score earned.
Making Sense of the Numbers
PSAT/NMSQT mean (average) scores and percentiles can be used to gauge college readiness and compare a student’s performance with that of other students.
Mean (Average) Scores
The table below shows the mean score for each section of the PSAT/NMSQT. Unless students earn scores that are much lower than average, they’re probably developing the kinds of critical reading, math reasoning, and writing skills needed for academic success in college.
In addition to scores, students receive percentiles for each test section. A student’s percentile is a number between 0 and 100. It shows the percentage of students in a particular grade whose scores fall below the student’s score. For example, an 11th-grade student whose Mathematics percentile is 57 scored higher than 57 percent of 11th-grade test-takers.
Percentiles are grade-specific:
- On both the paper score report and the online My College QuickStart™ score report, 11th graders and 10th graders see percentiles that compare their score to the scores of other test-takers in their grade.
- On the paper score report, all students in 9th grade or below see percentiles that compare their scores to the scores of 10th graders.
- The online score report shows 9th graders how their scores compares to those of other 9th grade test-takers in the nation.
PSAT/NMSQT score reports are intended to help students learn from their mistakes, improve their skills, and prepare for college. Students can see which skills need the most improvement and sign into My College QuickStart to review test questions and answer explanations related to those skills.