My oldest called, texted, and FaceTimed me non-stop on Tuesday morning until I finally was able to pick up. She got her PSAT results back and wanted to chat about them, what they meant, how her scores looked, and when she was going to take the official SAT or ACT. Can you tell she's the daughter of America's College Counselor?
But I wasn't my perky and engaged self. Part of it had to do with the fact that I was reeling from finding out that my younger daughter had just tested positive for COVID. (Oy, don't even get me started on how scary this is.) The other part of it had to do with my knowledge of how relatively meaningless the PSAT scores are, especially for a sophomore in high school, like my oldest.
- PSAT scores have never been a part of the admissions process. Well, not until the pandemic hit. But hear me out!
- Truth be told, there are a handful of colleges in the U.S. that now indicate that if a student hasn't been able to take an SAT or ACT due to COVID, they can submit their PSAT score. University of Michigan has offered this as an option for the last two admissions cycles. Some of the service academies have offered this too. It's hard to find many more, though.
- But who would report their PSAT for college admissions? The PSAT score is usually a fraction of what a student is capable of scoring on the SAT or ACT.
- In fact, the scale only goes up to 1520 compared to 1600 on the SAT. So the PSAT score never looks that great to a student or an admissions officer.
- And, admissions officers don't pay attention to score percentages like my oldest did when we chatted the other day. They care about the actual scores on each section. The closer to the highest score you can get on the section is ideal. That would be a 760 on each section of the PSAT.
- While a high index score from the junior year PSAT can position a student to become a National Merit Semifinalist or Finalist, only about 7,500 students worldwide will get the National Merit Scholarship.
- And, even if a student is on track to get the National Merit Scholarship, not all colleges sponsor it. Any college that uses only need-based financial aid (instead of merit scholarships) is not a sponsor. That means the Ivy League institutions and a number of other highly selective colleges are not sponsors of the scholarship.
So what do you do with the PSAT score and why take it?
So don't get too upset or too caught up with your PSAT score. It's a little like me having a negative antigen or PCR test at the moment. It doesn't guarantee anything to come. One test, whether it's a PSAT, SAT, ACT, or PCR, won't define me or you.