# What Does Your PSAT Score Tell You?

## PSAT Background

Once two separate tests, the PSAT and NMSQT have long been combined into a single exam taken by high school students in October and returned in December of their junior year. While the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is, for the most part, a warm-up for the SAT, it is also an introduction for many students to high-stakes testing and a way for students to qualify for National Merit Scholarships and/or National Merit recognition. Typically, to qualify for national merit recognition (that may lead to scholarships), students must perform in the top 5% of students in their state.

## PSAT Content

The PSAT/NMSQT measures skills in three academic areas: critical reading, mathematics, and grammar. Critical reading skill is measured across two question types: sentence completions and reading passages. Mathematics questions are drawn from arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra and geometry. There are two types of mathematics questions: multiple choice and grid-ins (where students must write in the correct answer). There are three types of grammar questions: Identifying Sentence Errors, Improving Sentences, and Improving Paragraphs.

## PSAT/SAT Similarities and Differences

Because the PSAT has questions that are similar to the SAT, it can be a relatively good predictor of what SAT scores will be without additional preparation. To calibrate a PSAT score with an SAT score, just add a zero to the end of the PSAT score. Some notable differences between the tests are: PSAT contains easier math; PSAT does not have an an Essay section; PSAT is shorter.

## The Most Common Misconception About the PSAT

Most people are under the misconception that SAT scores are always higher than PSAT scores. In reality this is not the case. In fact, the higher the PSAT score, the more likely it is to decrease on the SAT. For example, a student with a PSAT score of 210 is statistically more likely to have an SAT score under 2100 than over 2100. Conversely, lower PSAT scores are more likely to improve.