You just received your child’s PSAT score? What does it mean? A PSAT score is comprised of a Reading and Writing score as well as a Math score. Each ranges from 160-760 and added together they create your overall score. There is also a score ranging from 8 - 38 in the following areas; Reading, Writing and Language, and Math. The next number the PSAT provides is your percentile compared to other Sophomores or Juniors who took the test. If the number is 80, you have scored 80% better than the other students who took the PSAT.
When Sophomores take the PSAT, it is generally for practice and to gauge their future testing potential. Juniors who take the PSAT may also consider the PSAT are practice test, but Juniors are also eligible for scholarships with the National Merit Scholarship as the most notable one. There are several factors that affect a student’s eligibility for National Merit Scholarships with your score and state of residency being the two most important. There are different cutoffs for each state which reflect the overall success for that state. The average cutoff score for the National Merit Scholarship is 218 with a range of 212-223.
There are also different stages to become a National Merit Scholar. There are approximately 1.5 million students who take the PSAT in October of their Junior year. The top 50,000 scorers are selected to be National Merit Recognized Students. National Merit Semifinalist are then selected by their scores within their state. National Merit Semifinalists are the only ones that can apply to become National Merit Finalists. In September of senior year, 66% of the applicants will become Commended Students. Eventually, approximately 15,000 students are named National Merit Finalists which is definitely a high level honor. Lastly, approximately 7,500 National Merit Scholars are named and they receive Merit Scholarships to college. These students will receive notification in the early Spring of their senior year.