Interpreting the PSAT scores

The College Board released the October 2015 PSAT scores last week. This test is the precursor to the redesigned SAT, which begins in March.  The main purpose of this test is qualification for the National Merit Scholarship. Only present eleventh graders are considered for this honor. Sophomore  scores are calculated on a different scale. So tenth graders who score in the 99% this year are not eligible for consideration of the scholarship program. Furthermore, juniors who have obtained the 99% can’t guarantee their inclusion in the scholarship program. Statisticians will continue to run the Selection Index Numbers throughout the summer to determine the top scorers on the exam.

The score report includes not only the student’s raw score, but several other sub-scores. The first score to understand the raw score.  The highest score possible on this PSAT is 1520, NOT 1600.  Thus, each of the two sections has score range of low of 160 to a maximum of 760.  However, the percentile rank and selection index are additional considerations.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has included a statement in the PSAT booklet explaining  the selection index, which actually determines a student’s eligibility.  ”To calculate your Selection Index, double your Reading & Writing score, and add the math score.”  (Omit the 0 on the end of each score.) For example, a student who has scored 1420 on the test-(710 in each of the two sections) would use the following formula: 71×2=142 + 71= 213.  Their statement continues:  ”If your score places you among the top 50,000 high scorers who qualify for the National Merit Program, you will be notified next  September.”  Due to the change in the PSAT, the National Merit cutoff has to be recalculated.

So, use the information on the PSAT to determine strengths and weaknesses for the upcoming test. Handle Associates can help, as our   program (Test Preparation: An Individualized Approach) treats students as individuals. Let us know how we can help!

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