If you’re a high school junior who just received a copy of your March SAT scores, chances are good that you’re pretty pleased with the results. Students from across the country are reporting higher than expected outcomes on the redesigned SAT exam, in some cases boasting 100+ point improvements from the PSAT to the SAT. All of this sounds like great news, right? Why shouldn’t students be thrilled that their March SATs now put them within range for some of their more competitive “dream” colleges? Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple. If you really want to know what your March SAT scores mean, you’ll need to check out the newly released SAT Score Converter – a handy little tool that shows exactly how your new scores compare to the “old” SAT scale colleges currently employ. (And for those folks looking for additional information, I advise you to dig into this document from the College Board, which gives a number-by-number comparison for all varieties of SAT scores.)
By Sean Murphy, Curriculum Manager at Revolution Prep
About the PSAT
PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT and it is organized, in part, by the College Board, the same organization that runs the SAT. The PSAT is also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). At its heart, the PSAT is a practice version of the SAT, so the two tests have many similarities. These similarities include a no-calculator math section and “rights-only scoring” (i.e. no guessing penalty). Even if you think your child might end up taking the ACT, the PSAT is valuable – by taking it now, they will have already had great exposure to a long standardized test, and can take a lot of their experience with them to the ACT.
Who takes the PSAT and why do they take it?
If you’re a 10th or 11th grader, you were probably shuffled into a large auditorium sometime in the not-too-distant past to take the PSAT, a practice version of the College Board’s SAT. If you’re anything like the majority of students I speak with every year, you’re probably a little confused about the relevance of the test or the reason for taking it. And when your results arrived just a week or two ago, you were probably a little perplexed by the numbers and what they mean for the future. Hopefully this article can help you make some sense of the whole experience, and give you a better idea of how it fits into the admissions process.
What Do My PSAT Scores Mean?
In and of themselves, your scores don’t mean a whole lot. Colleges will never ask you for your PSAT results, and you’ll never have to report them. Because of this, I love thinking of the PSAT as a really useful data point for my students; it’s a dry run at the SAT with no stakes. At the very least, you get to see how the SAT will feel when you take it for real, and truly savvy students can use their results to “predict” their SAT scores a year down the road.
My son recently took the PSAT and has started receiving both email and snail mail from a few schools. Just how important is the PSAT to colleges and universities?
The answer to your question depends upon which hat an admission officer is wearing: the “recruiter” hat or the “gatekeeper” hat. Let’s start with the recruiter hat first.
No matter how selective a college or university might seem, its admission officers are still charged with drumming up applications. The more applications a school receives → the more popular and selective the school looks → the more students will want to apply → the more applications a school receives. It’s a vicious cycle, I know.