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How to Really Read Your PSAT Score

Now that PSAT scores have been received by students around the country, it is worth a moment to really understand what these numbers mean.


First and foremost, unless you are pursuing a National Merit Scholarship, PSAT scores should be taken with a grain of salt. Since most students do not qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, there should be little stress or anxiety over PSAT scores.  Unfortunately, many students and parents view PSAT scores negatively. They place great emphasis on student performance and subsequently find areas of concern. This pessimistic view is the wrong lens to use for PSAT scores.  Instead of a pessimistic lens, parents and students should view the scores with a lens of opportunity. Much like a doctor would use a diagnostic test to identify a health plan, parents and students should use PSAT scores to determine a plan of attack for the SAT.  For example, consider Dylan’s recent score of 54 on the PSAT Critical Reading. This would translate to a 540 on SAT Critical Reading which is a score just above average. Instead of being concerned with an average score, Dylan can look under the hood of this score and get to the details. Specifically, Dylan’s score report shows that he was strong on the Sentence Completion questions but weak on the Passage-Based Reading questions. 

Instead of doom and gloom for Dylan, there is great opportunity. Dylan now knows that he needs to work on his Passage-Based Reading. Instead of being negative about his performance, Dylan has a specific area that requires dedicated focus. Armed with a plan to improve his reading, Dylan has months to work on it.  PSAT scores represent evidence of what you can do to get a better SAT score. They are not an indication of concern for a student, but rather an indication of opportunity.  Learn more about PSAT, SAT and ACT prep from CROSSWALK. Read 2400 SCORES: 24 Life Lessons to Demystify the SAT and Boost Your Score by Brooke Higgins. 

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