Breaking Down the PSAT


PSAT scores are in College Board now!

On January 26th, hundreds of Franklin High School juniors came into the building and sat down to take the 2-hour-45-minute test known as the PSAT (the preliminary-SAT). Last Monday, March 8th, these students received emails letting them know that their scores were in! The College Board provided lots of insight in regard to each person’s specific test, but looking at all of the information can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. The Q & A below was put together to hopefully put your mind at ease and take care of any concerns you may have!

How do I see my PSAT score?

1. Go to and type in your login information.

2. Once you’ve successfully signed in, click on your name in the top right corner and select “PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9 Scores”.

3. Your score should be displayed on the screen; click the rightwards arrow to see more detailed insight regarding your score. If you cannot see your score, follow the directions on your screen.

4. If you’d like to get a condensed overview of your test, you can click “Download Your Score Report” near the top right of the screen; if you’d rather see the information by scrolling on the current page, you can do that too!

How is the PSAT scored?

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320-1520 and is further broken down into two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (160-760) and Math (also 160-760).

As stated by the College Board, the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portion “evaluates students’ ability to interpret, analyze, synthesize, and use evidence found in a wide range of sources. These include passages from literature texts and on career-related, humanities, history/social studies, and science topics, as well as informational graphics (such as tables, graphs, & charts). The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Section score is the sum of the Reading Test score and the Writing and Language Test score multiplied by 10″.

For the Math part, the College Board explains that this section “evaluates skills using linear relationships, ratios, percentages, proportional relationships, data analysis, and non-linear equations and functions. The Math Section score is the number of questions you answered correctly converted to a scale score”.

What score should you be aiming for?

Honestly, it’s up to you! Lots of colleges are becoming test-optional due to the pandemic and your scores are typically not needed if you choose to pursue a post-graduate plan other than college. However, many colleges post the average SAT scores of the students they admit, so if you strongly feel that you would like to submit your test scores, it could be a good idea to aim for a score higher than the average at the school(s) you’re applying to.

The average PSAT score is somewhere between 920 and 1010 out of a possible total of 1520.

How is the PSAT different from the SAT?

Scoring: While the PSAT is scored on a 320-1520 scale, the SAT is scored on a 400-1600 scale. Each of the Reading/Writing and Math sections is on a 200-800 scale.


Difficulty: It seems that the SAT is a bit harder than the PSAT, as the PSAT is meant for 10th and 11th graders (fall), whereas the SAT is taken by 11th graders (spring) and sometimes 12th graders (fall) too, especially now with the pandemic.

How is the PSAT similar to the SAT?

The PSAT is very much similar to the SAT in terms of content and basic overall structure. The same types of questions on the same types of topics will be sure to turn up on your exam. Additionally, on both tests, there is no penalty for getting an answer wrong (so it is best to guess when you don’t know!).

What is the National Merit Scholarship Program?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a program through the College Board in which the top-scorers are rewarded in scholarships for their skills. Based on your NMSC Selection Index Score, you can see if you qualify to be entered; each state has its own cut-off and I believe Massachusett’s is around a 222.

Your score is calculated based on your individual test scores which are scored on a scale of 8-38. In order to get your NMSC Selection Index Score, you would calculate 2 x ((reading score 8-38) + (writing/language score 8-38) + (math score 8-38)).

You don’t need to do the math though! You can find your NMSC Selection Index Score right on College Board. Scroll down to the bottom of the page that we just left off on above. Here, you’ll find your three scores that are on an 8-38 scale that help make up your NMSC Selection Index. Press on the “Click Here” button to see your  NMSC Selection Index. The screen will look like this:In order to find out more information about the National Merit Scholarship Program, click here.

Hopefully, this was helpful in giving you a better understanding of the PSAT. Congratulations to everyone who took the PSAT and I wish you luck on your future SAT!