As I write this, school counselors around the country are receiving PSAT results for the Class of 2018. Within a few days, students will have access to their scores as well. Here are the five most important things to know when you get these scores:
- PSAT scores do not factor into the college admissions process. Colleges will never see these scores.
- The highest score a student can get on the PSAT is a 1520. (However, score ranges for the official SAT will be from 200 to 800 per section, with a highest score of 1600.)
- Students can use the PSAT results as a way to determine which standardized test they should take moving forward (SAT or the ACT), when to take them, and what preparation they need to do in advance.
- Make sure to take a practice ACT in order to compare the results to the PSAT scores. Some students perform better on one test over another.
- The only thing PSAT scores dictate is whether a student qualifies to be a National Merit Semi-Finalist. This is based on the "Selection Index" the student receives. The "Selection Index" varies from state to state (and year to year). If the student's index makes the cut for National Merit, they will be notified about how to proceed with the scholarship competition.
As much stress and anxiety swirls around the PSAT results, these scores do not dictate success in the college admissions process. The PSAT scores can simply inform a student's decisions about which standardized test to pursue and how to approach the test. Even for students who are focused on National Merit, remember that what you have done in and out of school matters much more in the admissions process. In fact, colleges are usually making admissions decisions after a student finds out about the final results of the National Merit Scholarship. So, take these scores in stride. PSAT scores never get you into college. They only give you a little exposure to a test that may or may not be in your future.