Did you get your PSAT scores back and are wondering what they mean?
In today’s blog, we’re going over the importance of the PSAT and whether you should be worried about your score or not.
What is the PSAT?
The PSAT is essentially a practice SAT. They are similar, but not identical. The PSAT is shorter, a bit easier in the math section than the SAT, and has no essay.
Do your PSAT scores matter?
Yes and no.
No, if you are not in the top % of test-takers in your state.
Yes, if you are looking to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Competition.
The National Merit Scholarship Competition is held each year for high school juniors who are U.S citizens/ permanent residents. You can qualify for a scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation by scoring high on your PSAT. The program awards about 7000 scholarships each year from about 15,000 finalists.
Students who score in the top 1% of their state automatically qualify to be National Merit Semifinalists. From there, they fill out an application, submit the grades, and take an SAT to prove their score was accurate. Then, most semifinalists become finalists and potentially earn scholarships. Since qualifying depends on states, it is harder to become a semifinalist in a competitive state like California than it is in a state like North Dakota.
COVID-19 and the PSAT
Many students were unable to take the PSAT this year due to COVID-19. If this is the case, you have two options. If you don’t want or need the National Merit Scholarship, or you wouldn’t have qualified anyways, then there’s no need to worry.
If you do want to qualify for the competition, this year the competition is allowing students to submit SAT scores instead.
Where Can I Use a National Merit Scholarship?
Most of the scholarships in the competition are tied to local universities and state schools in your region. They may not help you get a full ride at a top 10 or top 20 universities.
The College Board National Recognition Programs
- African American Recognition–Jackie Robinson Foundation
- Hispanic Recognition–Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- Indigenous Recognition–Indigenous Education, Inc.
- Rural and Small Town Recognition–Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
For more information on these four programs check out this link.
Can your PSAT Scores Help with More Than Scholarships?
Yes. If you are not apart of the top 5% of test-takers who qualify for scholarships, the PSAT is still beneficial to you. The test can show where you are at and how you may perform on the SAT. Your score will show you your strengths and weaknesses and help you prepare for the SAT or the ACT.
Remember your PSAT score is out of 1520, while an SAT score is 1600. So while it isn’t a perfect way to see how you will perform on the real exam, it can certainly help you study.