Did you just get your PSAT score back? Are you wondering if you got a good score, or if you need to study for the SAT? Let’s talk about what a good PSAT score is in 2021!
You may be looking at your PSAT score and thinking it looks just like an SAT score. College Board even suggests that the PSAT and the SAT are on the same scale. However, that’s not entirely true, because the PSAT out of 1520 (760 points per section) while the SAT is out of 1600 (800 points per section). Thus, correlating the PSAT to the SAT is challenging, because the College Board says they are a 1:1 correlation, yet no scores exist higher than 1520. To help you understand the relationship between the scores, we’ve created some charts (below) that align PSAT scores with SAT scores according to percentile rank. These are not true equivalencies, as students generally take the SAT later than they take the PSAT, but they are valuable predictive tools to imagine if you are on track to get a score you want.
PSAT vs SAT
While a small percentage of students taking the PSAT will take it with the hopes of placing in programs like the National Merit Scholarship Competition, most people taking the PSAT will not study as much as those taking the SAT. We urge you to keep in mind that if you want to maintain the same percentile for the SAT that you got for the PSAT, you will still likely have to do some prep work. This is especially true for the top of the score ranges.
As COVID-19 has prompted colleges to adopt test-optional policies, we’ve seen a huge drop off in the number of SAT test takers. Also, those who choose to skip the test are often those who do not consider themselves “good” at taking tests. The more competitive students who remain are more likely to score higher, and this affects how the percentiles break down. PSAT takers, however, have not experienced the same drop off. Most students who take the exam do so because they are required to by their school. Given these discrepancies, you should expect to do prep work between taking the PSAT and SAT to maintain your percentile. As the population of PSAT test takers is not exactly the same as the population of SAT test takers, when you look at our percentile aligned charts below, please take them with a grain of salt.
If you want to know what specific schools require what kind of scores, (i.e. can I get into Vanderbilt with a 1400?) check out What’s a Good SAT Score.
Decent PSAT Score
A decent PSAT score meets the College Board’s Benchmark for college readiness. This benchmark is different depending on your grade level. Benchmarks are numbers the College Board uses that, through their research, are predictive of success in college. With this score you have a 75% chance of getting a C or higher in related college coursework.
So what score meets this benchmark? Around a 50th percentile score.
If you’re an 11th grader the PSAT benchmark is 460 out of 760 for ERW (Evidence-based Reading and Writing) and 510 out of 760 for Math. This yields a combined score of 970.
However, a 10th grader only needs a 430 out of 760 for ERW and a 480 out of 760 for Math (910 total).
For a senior taking the SAT, the benchmark is slightly higher. An SAT test taker needs a 480 out of 800 for ERW and a 530 out of 800 for Math to meet the benchmark set by College Board (1010 total). A score of 1010 on the SAT is approximately the 50th percentile when compared to the nationally representative sample. A 1050 is the 51st percentile among SAT users.
Anything around 1000-1050 would thus be a decent SAT score, so these PSAT scores would put you on track to score in that range.
Good PSAT Score
A good score on the PSAT would equate to around a 1200 on the SAT. This score is enough to get you into some nationally recognized state universities with moderately competitive admissions. These schools likely have a 40-70% rate of applicants accepted. If we look at the User Percentile table, a 1200 on the SAT is the 74th percentile. On the Nationally Representative Sample table, a 1200 is the 81st percentile.
For juniors taking the PSAT, an equivalent score is going to be an 1140 or 1150. Although the Nationally Representative Sample table shows a PSAT score in the 81st percentile is actually closer to an 1110, but we think you should aim for a slightly higher score. For sophomores, you should aim for a PSAT score of about 1090 if you are hoping to eventually get a 1200 on the SAT.
Very Good PSAT Score
A very good PSAT score is in the 93rd percentile among users, and the 97th percentile nationally. These percentiles are equivalent to a 1400 on the SAT. If you’re a junior this amounts to about a 1330 on your PSAT. If you’re a 10th grader, then ideally we want to see you at 1300. As a 10th grader, you may notice that the 93rd percentile of 10th grade users equates to about a 1220 on the PSAT. However, given that this number is lower than the representative sample, we believe the low equivalence is due to COVID-19 score effects, and students should not assume this will equate to a 1400 on the SAT. At the same time, if you’re in the 1200s, don’t lose hope! With some dedicated studying, it’s still possible to hit a 1400 on the SAT.
Excellent PSAT Score
An excellent PSAT score represents the top 1% of test takers, commensurate with at least a 1520+ SAT score. On the PSAT this would be between a 1460+ as a junior or 1430+ as a sophomore. The upper range of this score band is enough to complete a strong application to top 10 or top 20 schools, with admission rates below 20%. Still, these top colleges are extremely competitive. Remember, an excellent test score is only one component of your application.
Receiving a PSAT score in the 99+ percentile may also make you eligible for National Merit Scholarship competition awards. In order to qualify you must have a selection index that puts you in the top 1% of test takers in your state. So how do you calculate that selection index?
Let’s say you got a 1460 on the PSAT with an ERW score of 760 and a Math score of 700. First, you divide each sub-score by 10. Next, you multiply your ERW score times 2, and add the math score to the result. Your Selection Index becomes (76)x2 + 70 = 222. For most states, a 222 will probably place you in the top 1% and make you eligible for National Merit Semi-Finalist status. From here, simply maintain your grades, fill out the necessary paperwork, and prepare for a confirmation SAT score and you have a shot at becoming a Finalist!
There are also diversity programs for Native American, rural, Hispanic, and African American students that use the PSAT for qualification. Typically students must score in the top ~2.5% of test takers to be eligible.
PSAT vs SAT Concordance using the Nationally Representative Sample
The Nationally Representative Sample Percentile compares your score to the scores of typical U.S. students. You will notice this chart is less competitive than the user percentile.
|PSAT Score||PSAT 11th Gr Nat'l Sample, SAT Nat'l Sample, ACT Nat'l Sample||SAT Score (Nat'l sample)||ACT Score (Nat'l sample)||ACT Concordance 2018(using SAT Nat'l sample scores)||PSAT 10th Gr Nat'l Sample|
|670 and below||1||650 and below||9 and below||11||2|
PSAT vs SAT Concordance using User Scores
SAT User Percentiles are based on the scores of students who took the SAT in the past three graduating classes. You will notice these scores are more competitive than the national sample. We suspect this is due to test-optional policies: students who may be poor test-takers are less likely to take the exam. The users in this chart are more likely to be college bound.
|PSAT Score||ACT, SAT & 11th Gr PSAT Users||SAT Score (based on user percentile)||ACT Concordance 2018(using SAT user score)||PSAT 10th Gr Users|
|610 & Below||1||630 & Below||10 & Below||2|
SupertutorTV Test Prep
If you’re not happy with your PSAT score, the best thing to do now is PREP! SupertutorTV has complete video based prep solutions from a perfect scoring tutor for both the SAT and ACT at SupertutorTV.com. And check out our YouTube Channel to keep up with all the related news and tips for college readiness!