PSAT questions in thought bubbles. Text: SAT to PSAT conversion? How close is the PSAT to the SAT? National Merit Scholarship? What's a good PSAT score?

Interpreting Your PSAT Score: PSAT to SAT Conversion

It’s October, which only means two things: it’s spooky season, and you’re about to take (or you just took) the PSAT. After you take the PSAT, waiting for your scores can feel scary in itself. You must be wondering: “What is a good PSAT score? What’s the difference between the PSAT and the SAT? What’s the PSAT to SAT conversion?”

Get answers to all your PSAT-related questions while you’re waiting for your scores (or trying to interpret them.)

Note: There are three types of PSAT. The PSAT 8/9 is for 8th and 9th graders, the PSAT 10 is for 10th graders, and the PSAT/NMSQT. This post is for PSAT/NMSQT testers.

PSAT score infographic detailing when are PSAT score released, the average PSAT score, a good PSAT score, and what to do when you get your score report.

When are PSAT scores released?

The 2021 PSAT release date is December 6th or 7th, depending on the state you test in. In general, PSAT scores are released over a period of several days, six to eight weeks after you take the exam.

You can check your account on College Board to see if your scores are available. If you’re unsure about when your scores will be released, ask your school guidance counselor. 

What is the average PSAT score? What is a good PSAT score?

Before we get into average and good PSAT scores, let’s talk about what your score report looks like and what information is provided. 

PSAT and SAT exams are given more than once, so there are multiple versions of the exam. Since there are different questions on each exam, the questions may not have the same level of difficulty on every test date. College Board accounts for variations in difficulty across exam dates by using a special scaled system to score exams.

That means that a score of 1000 on a PSAT administered on October 13th means the same thing as a PSAT administered on October 26th.

Without a scaled system, PSAT scoring wouldn’t be standardized at all.

However, if you only look at scaled scores, you won’t necessarily know how many of the questions you got right or wrong on the specific test that you took. Your raw exam score will tell you how many questions you got right, which gives you information about what kinds of questions you personally struggle with.

Sections of Your PSAT Score Report

Here’s an example score report from College Board that visually correlates with the explanation provided below.

  1. Scaled Total Score (on a scale of 320-1520): Your overall scaled score on the exam; The College Board uses a scaling system to scale the three section scores and combines them to get your scaled total score
  2. Percentiles (on a scale of 1-99): This information tells you how you performed on the exam compared to other students who took the exam
  3. Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score (on a scale of 160-760): Combined Reading and Writing scores
  4. Math Score (on a scale of 160-760): Combined scores of the calculator and no-calculator sections of the exam
  5. Section Scores  (on a scale of 8-38): Scaled score on Math, Reading, and Writing sections
  6. Subscores (on a scale of 1-15): Measure of your abilities in Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Preparation for Advanced Math; these are all similar to the skills tested on the SAT
  7. Cross-Test Scores (on a scale of 8-38): Measurement of how you performed on Social Studies/History and Science questions; cross-test scores are measured by analyzing all sections of the PSAT exam for Social Studies/History and Science-based questions
  8. National Merit Scholarship Corporation Selection Index (on a scale of 48-228): Tells you whether you are one of 50,000 students who qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program; This is calculated by adding up all three section scores (Reading, Writing, Math) and multiplying by two
  9. Question-Level Feedback: Shows the raw scores of each section; The max score for Math is 48, 47 for Reading, and 44 for Writing

Average PSAT Score and Good PSAT Score

A good PSAT score is 1070-1350 out of 1520. Score anything above that, and you are an elite tester.

An “average” PSAT score is 960-1070.

A score of 1010 puts you exactly at the 50th percentile among test takers, so that is the exact average PSAT score.

PSAT to SAT Conversion: Score Estimation Chart

Note: The PSAT is slightly easier than the SAT, simply because there’s not as much material presented to you. Keep this in mind as you consider how well you may do on the SAT, based on your PSAT scores.

PSAT Score

Estimated SAT Score

400

630

410

640

420

650

430

650

440

660

450

670

460

680

470

690

480

700

490

700

500

710

510

720

520

730

530

740

540

750

550

760

560

760

570

770

580

780

590

790

600

800

610

810

620

810

630

820

640

830

650

840

660

850

670

860

680

870

690

870

700

880

710

890

720

900

730

910

740

920

750

920

760

930

770

940

780

950

790

960

800

970

810

970

820

980

830

990

840

1000

850

1010

860

1020

870

1030

880

1030

890

1040

900

1050

910

1060

920

1070

930

1080

940

1080

950

1090

960

1100

970

1110

980

1120

990

1130

1000

1140

1010

1140

1020

1150

1030

1160

1040

1170

1050

1180

1060

1190

1070

1190

1080

1200

1090

1210

1100

1220

1110

1230

1120

1240

1130

1240

1140

1250

1150

1260

1160

1270

1170

1280

1180

1290

1190

1300

1200

1300

1210

1310

1220

1320

1230

1330

1240

1340

1250

1350

1260

1350

1270

1360

1280

1370

1290

1380

1300

1390

1310

1400

1320

1410

1330

1410

1340

1420

1350

1430

1360

1440

1370

1450

1380

1460

1390

1460

1400

1470

1410

1480

1420

1490

1430

1500

1440

1510

1450

1510

1460

1520

1470

1530

1480

1540

1490

1550

1500

1560

1510

1570

1520

1570

What should you do when you receive your scores?

1. Make a note of what sections you performed well on (and which ones you did not.)

While you don’t get to see the specific questions from your exam, you will get an overall understanding of which subjects you excel in, and which ones you may not.

This information is important in guiding you with your SAT prep plans, as well as helping you determine what you need to focus on in your academic course schedule.

For example, if you did not do well on the Math section of the PSAT, you should focus more on Math than Reading and Writing in your SAT prep. Also, be prepared to devote more energy and study time to your current and future Mathematics classes, as Math may not be your strong suit.

Related: These are Math testing tips for students who sat in the back of Algebra class.

2. Take note of your National Merit Scholarship standing.

To be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, you have to take the PSAT as an 11th grader. So, if you take the exam in 10th grade, you have an entire year to prepare for the PSAT again.

If you are a high school junior who may eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program based on your PSAT scores, follow this National Merit Scholarship timeline and instructions.

3. Look ahead to the SAT.

When you’re a high school senior, you won’t have as much free time as you do now. You’ll be too busy applying to colleges and finding scholarships to sit down and really study for the SAT or ACT.

So, take the time to study now. Figure out when to to take the SAT, how long you need to study, and the most efficient way to use your time.

If you really want to maximize your PSAT and SAT study efforts, consider working with a tutor who understands these exams, inside and out.

If you need additional support studying for the PSAT or SAT, enroll in our online test prep sessions 

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


All Your Questions About the SAT & ACT Answered!

Get Your Ultimate Guide Here

[aweber listid=5860918 formid=622388097 formtype=webform]