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Suniti's Advice Corner

Answering the Most Common PSAT Score Questions

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Dec 12, 2017

This time of year, 11th graders ask us a lot of PSAT score related questions. A lot of students begin to panic when they get their PSAT results. So they come to us to figure out how to flip their score into a top SAT/ACT score. In this post, you will find the most common PSAT questions we get every December as PSAT scores come out.  Leave a comment below if you have any additional questions, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. 

Does a low PSAT score hurt my college application?

Turn that frown upside down: A low PSAT score will not hurt your college application. Colleges do not factor in your PSAT score as a part of your college application.

The one negative of getting a very low PSAT score is that you will not meet the National Merit or other scholarship cut offs. But don’t be disheartened – only 7500 out of 1.6 million PSAT takers (that’s 0.5%) end up receiving scholarships through National Merit. 

The only thing a low PSAT score should do is motivate you to study hard for the SAT/ACT, because those scores matter a lot. Think of your PSAT score as a baseline. With the right practice, you can turn your PSAT score into a high SAT/ACT score. 

Do colleges see my PSAT score?

Your individual PSAT score is not reported to colleges. However, if you opted in to Student Search Services during your PSAT test, you might hear from colleges and/or scholarship organizations if your score falls within a certain test score range the organization is looking for. 

Why is the PSAT out of 1520 if the SAT is out of 1600?

The PSAT is slightly easier than the SAT, so rather than scaling it up to 1600, the College Board has kept it at a lower maximum. Don’t worry about what the test is out of. All you need to know is:

If you got 1100 on the PSAT, you would score (approximately) 1100 on the SAT.

Read our post all about understanding your PSAT score. 

Do I need to study for the SAT/ACT if I got a high PSAT score?

You should definitely study for the SAT/ACT, no matter what your PSAT score is. First, the SAT/ACT are tougher than the PSAT. This means you will score lower on the actual tests unless you prepare. Second, your PSAT score is not reported to colleges.

Turn your PSAT Into a Top SAT/ACT Score - Learn More

What is a good PSAT/SAT/ACT score?

“Good” in this case is relative. For some, a 960 is a great score. For others, a 1420 is a good PSAT score. And for some, even a 1420 isn’t good enough. To understand what kind of score would be considered “good” for you, it is important to have a list of a few colleges you might be interested in. If you have this list, follow these steps to understand what a “good” score for you means:

Option 1

  • Visit the college’s admissions website (type in Google: [Name of University] admissions website. Here’s an example with Boston University:

Boston University admissions search example

  • Look for Undergraduate admissions class profile (select the most recent one available)

boston university admissions landing

  • Scroll till you see “Average SAT Score” or “Average ACT score” of incoming class  

boston university admission stats

Source: Boston University 

For BU, the Average SAT for their freshman admitted class 2021 is 1452, and average ACT is 32. So for a student who wants to know what a good score is if they’re interested in a university like BU, a good score is around 1400 on the SAT or 30+ on the ACT.

Option 2:

  • Go to google and type in something like “[Name of University] Average SAT score”

university of illinois admissions

  • Make sure you click on the official University’s site (it should end in .edu) as there are a lot of other non-official sources of information that might not be most recent or as accurate.

university illinois admissions google results

university of illinois admission stats

Source: University of Illinois

For University of Illinois, the Average SAT for their freshman admitted class 2021 range is 1360-1480, and average ACT is 27-33. So for a student who wants to know what a good score is if they’re interested in a university like University of Illinois, a good score is one that falls within either of those ranges.

Still not completely understanding your score? Read our post where we go into detail in understanding your PSAT score. Click Here To Understand Your PSAT Score

Turn your PSAT Into a Top SAT/ACT Score - Learn More  

Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, psat

5 Reasons Why You Should Prepare for the PSAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, May 26, 2017


Guys, this is really important information! While it is all public information, it is not common knowledge. You could be missing out on free money for college, and beneficial college recruitement resources. So take notes, use the resources we mention, and take this important advice to the bank.

You might say to yourself “The PSAT is just a practice SAT, so I don’t need to worry about it, right? It’s the SAT that really matters, isn’t it?” or “I don’t even want to take the SAT—I’m preparing for the ACT.”

The PSAT is not just a practice SAT and you absolutely should be taking it seriously. In fact, the PSAT opens many doors to you that you may not have otherwise been aware of. Below is a list of reasons why you need to take the PSAT seriously. Check it out and get an immediate edge over your peers, who don’t realize just how important the PSAT is.

TestRocker offers a one of a kind PSAT Prep Program.


1. The PSAT helps prepare you for the SAT/ACT.

Preparing for the PSAT will kickstart your prep for the SAT and ACT. This reason might seem the most obvious, but it’s true. The PSAT is a shortened version of the SAT, so it will give you an idea of what will be on the SAT and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Why is this important? These are not normal tests that you're used to taking in school. They are longer, more time-intensive, and they cover a lot more content at multiple levels of difficulty. In addition to preparing for the content, it is important for you to learn about these aspects of the test. More preparation over a longer period of time leads to higher score improvements. 

2. Doing well on the PSAT can equal thousands of dollars and scholarship opportunities!

For many students, the PSAT can end up being even more important than the actual SAT/ACT. The PSAT is the only way to qualify for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program. You can become a National Merit Semi-Finalist by outscoring other students in your state. Many colleges will offer scholarships to students who qualify as semi-finalists, even if they don't qualify as finalists! Other scholarship opportunities that might be available to you based on your PSAT scores include the National Achievement Scholarship Program and the National Hispanic Recognition Program, along with many others. Not preparing for the PSAT means you might be leaving free money on the table.

Here's an example: Baylor University provides a full scholarship to National Merit finalists if they select Baylor as their 1st choice. 

3. Taking the PSAT puts you on colleges’ radar.

College Radar.jpg

When you take the PSAT, you can indicate which colleges you’re interested in as well as your academic and personal interests, which will put you on colleges’ radar. The College Board’s Student Search Program allows over a thousand colleges to identify prospective students based on factors such as intended major, GPA, and state residency. Scoring well on the PSAT can lead to being recruited by colleges and learn about colleges you may not have otherwise considered. Some colleges may even offer you scholarships based on your PSAT scores.


4. Your PSAT score will be used to identify your target university list.

The process of sitting down with your high school counselor to start the college application process is exciting. Your counselor will help you create a list of safety, target and reach schools. This list will largely be based on your current GPA and how you scored on the PSAT. It is important for your PSAT score to be as realistic as possible, which can only be achieved through preparation. You don't want to end up with a target list that doesn't accurately reflect your potential. 

5. Not preparing for the PSAT has no benefits.

Think back to any test you have ever taken; whether it was a final exam in school, or your driver's test. Did you walk in to it unprepared? Probably not. The PSAT that you take in your Junior year is almost 3 hours long. It is a big time commitment, and there are no retakes. Your score counts and has potential ramifications regarding your future without you even realizing it. So take control of your PSAT score and walk in to the test prepared. 

Most students underestimate the importance of taking the PSAT. Now that you’ve read this, you won’t be one of them.

If you’re looking to get the highest possible PSAT score, check out TestRocker, which will give you access to a fun and interactive personalized study plan.

Give it a try now for free and no credit card required.


Next Post: PSAT, SAT & ACT Terminology [Must Know Terms]

Tags: For Students, For Counselors, International Students, psat

Understanding Your 2015 PSAT Score

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Fri, Jan 08, 2016

The cat is out of the bag! 2015 PSAT scores were released online on January 7th. If you took this PSAT, you were amongst the first students to experience the new changes. Here are answers to some popular questions we get from students and parents about the PSAT report.
 Why are PSAT scores important, and what if I didn’t score well?

 Your PSAT score is a predictor of how you would perform on the SAT if you took it today. Honestly, the score should serve as a realization that the college application process is starting, and that its time to get serious.

Many school counselors will also use your PSAT scores to give you an idea of the kinds of schools you should think of applying to. It definitely acts as a good place to start, but don’t let your PSAT score deter you from aiming high for those “reach” schools. 

Our advice: don’t get discouraged if your score isn’t as high as you expected. With the correct planning, preparation and hard work, you can aim to raise your score by 200 points when you actually take the SAT.

Do colleges and universities see my PSAT scores?

Breathe! Universities do not receive your PSAT scores. The only people with access to your scores are you, your school & district (probably the counselor), your parents (if you choose to share with them, which we think you should), and the National Merit Scholarship folks who will see if qualify.


What do my PSAT scores mean? 

There is a lot of information in your PSAT score report. Here’s what you need to know:

Total Score: This is the number that tells you how you did on the PSAT, and approximately what you would score if you took the SAT today. It is the combination of your Evidence-Based Reading & Writing + Math sections. Each of the two sections is out of 760, for a total maximum score of 1520. The SAT will be out of 1600 (800 for each section).

Additional Test Scores: This area tells you how you performed on Reading, Writing & Language and Math. Our advice: Don’t worry too much, it is just providing you with additional information. Same goes for the cross-test scores.

What is the College & Career Readiness Benchmark?

Under each score on the first page of your score report, you will see a multi-colored red, orange and green line. The vertical black line is where you fall on that line/scale. The benchmark shows whether you are on track to be ready for first year college courses. Scores in Green show that you meet or exceed the benchmark. Orange shows that you’re almost there but still need a bit more work, and red shows that you need to improve significantly in that area.

Did I qualify for the National Merit Scholarship?

National Merit Scholarship Index (NMSC Selection Index) – go to this section to see if you meet the entry requirements. If there is an asterisk next to the score in the NMSC Selection Index section, that means you didn’t qualify.

Now that I understand my PSAT score, what should I do next?

If you are going to be applying to universities next semester, it is time to get serious. Your SAT/ACT prep is going to be the first step in your college application process. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Spend time reading your PSAT Skill Insights area. You will get a good understanding of things you can do to improve your score.
  2. Understand why the SAT/ACT tests are important. 
  3. Create a test taking plan with your parents.
  4. Need help creating your test-prep plan? Get a free customized study plan and consultation.


 You also might like:

How to Support your Child Through the Test Prep Process

Discouraged by your PSAT Score? Tips and Advice

Tags: For Students, sat, psat

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream PSAT, SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching thousands of students how to maximize their PSAT, SAT and ACT scores for over a decade.

TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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