Some folks have been a bit confused about the new PSAT scores so we figured we’d share some information on how the redesign impacted the new PSAT. If you’re not sure what the PSAT is, it’s the Preliminary SAT, which is taken by millions of sophomores and juniors each year. It’s not only a practice for the SAT — it’s also a chance to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. When applying to highly selective colleges, it’s nice to be able to list National Merit Semifinalist or National Merit Finalist. Is it a hook? Absolutely not. No way. But it’s nice to list as an award.
Now if you’re wondering why your score is so low on the new PSAT, keep in mind that the score changed for starters. Each section is no longer out of 800. Rather, each of the two sections (math as well as evidence-based reading and writing) are out of 760. This is the case unless you’re taking it as an eighth or ninth grader in which case the score is out of 720.
And as for the percentiles, who cares, who cares, who cares. In our experience, folks overvalue the percentiles when admissions officers at highly selective colleges just don’t look at these numbers. They don’t look at the percentiles for the SAT — forget the PSAT. So when folks write in and write paragraph after paragraph about their child’s percentiles, our eyes glaze over.