What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore?

Are you a sophomore taking the PSAT? Discover what constitutes a "good score" for 10th graders taking the test in our guide.

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by Staff Writers

Updated September 21, 2022

Edited by Danika Miller
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What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore?
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Many high school students take the PSAT/NMSQT — short for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — to prepare for the SAT. The top junior test-takers can also qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which awards college scholarships to high-achieving students.

Clearly, a good PSAT score can open several doors. Sophomores who take the test can use it as practice for the real deal the following year.

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But what is a good PSAT score for a sophomore? And should you even take the PSAT as a sophomore?

What Is a Good PSAT Score for a Sophomore Based on Percentiles?

In most cases, a good score for the PSAT is in the 75th percentile or above for both 10th and 11th graders. A score in the 50th percentile is right at the median, meaning you did better than half of all test-takers. The more test-takers you did better than, the more impressive your score will be.

For sophomores who took the PSAT in 2021, a total score of 1060 (out of 1520) landed them in the 75th percentile.

In many cases, PSAT scores can predict SAT scores. You can use the PSAT as a learning experience, working on sections you struggle with to ultimately score better on the SAT.

PSAT Score Percentiles (10th Grade)
Percentile Total Score Math Score Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score
99+ 1430-1520 740-760 720-760
99 1370-1420 710-730 700-710
95 1250-1260 620 650
90 1180 580 610
85 1130 550-560 580-590
80 1090-1100 530-540 560-570
75 (good) 1060 520 540-550
50 (median) 920 450-460 470

Source: College Board

What Are Good PSAT Scores for Sophomores Based on Academic Benchmarks?

The College Board, the group that administers the PSAT and SAT, offers academic benchmarks to predict future college performance among test-takers. Students who score in the green range have a 75% chance to earn at least a "C" grade in a first-semester college course in the same subject.

Students who score in the yellow range are within one year of academic growth of earning a "C" grade. Students in the red are more than a year away from getting a "C" in a first-semester college course.

High school sophomores should aim for a 430 in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section and a 480 in the Math section to reach a "good" benchmark.

PSAT Academic Benchmarks
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Math
Exceeds benchmark (green) 430-760 480-760
Within one year of academic growth (yellow) 410-420 450-470
Below benchmark by more than one year of academic growth (red) 160-400 160-440

Source: College Board

What Will Be on Your PSAT Score Report?

Your PSAT score report will include both raw and scaled scores for the Math and EBRW sections. You will also receive subscores and cross-test scores. In most cases, you'll get your scores around eight weeks after the test.

Section Scores

The first item you'll likely encounter on your PSAT score report is your section scores for both Math and EBRW. These scores added together equal your total PSAT score out of 1520. Each section is scored on a scale of 160-760.

Test Scores

Test scores are used to determine the section scores you see earlier in the report. Each section is scored on a scale of 8-38.

Cross-Test Scores

On your PSAT score report, you will see two cross-test scores, each ranging from 8-38:

These are not separate sections; rather, questions from both cross-test scores appear on all sections of the PSAT.

Subscores

PSAT subscores, ranging from 1-15, reflect how you performed on specific types of skills on all sections of the test. Below are the seven subscores and which sections they appear on:

Selection Index Scores

The Selection Index applies only to juniors. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses the Selection Index to determine which test-takers qualify for National Merit Scholarships.

The Selection Index ranges from 48-228. To calculate the Selection Index, add together your test scores for Math, Reading, and Writing and Language, then double that score. The score you need to qualify for a scholarship depends on the state you live in.

Which PSAT Test Should Sophomores Take?

Sophomores can choose between two types of PSAT tests: the PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT, which is the test discussed in this article. The PSAT 10 is designed specifically for sophomores, so the PSAT/NMSQT may be slightly more rigorous and challenging.

Most test-takers should plan on taking the PSAT/NMSQT their sophomore year. While you can't qualify for the National Merit Scholarship in 10th grade, you can gain valuable experience to prepare for your junior year when you can qualify for the scholarship.

If you don't have much experience with standardized testing, the PSAT 10 may be a better option, as it can ease you into standardized testing and familiarize you with the process.

Can Sophomores Qualify for a National Merit Scholarship?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is only open to high school juniors. So even if you score well on the PSAT as a sophomore, you will not be eligible for the program.

Nevertheless, taking the test your sophomore year can provide you with useful practice for the following year. The PSAT/NMSQT also offers excellent preparation for the SAT, which you might take during your junior or senior year.

Frequently Asked Questions About the PSAT

Do colleges see your PSAT scores?

In general, colleges do not see your PSAT scores, even if you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. In most cases, only you and your high school receive your score reports and see your PSAT scores.

When are PSAT scores released?

Most years, the College Board releases PSAT scores around eight weeks after you take the test. This date usually falls sometime in December, since the PSAT is administered each year in October.

How many times do you take the PSAT?

Many students only take the PSAT once during the fall of their junior year. While you can only take the test once per year, you can take the PSAT up to three times in total. College preparatory schools often have their students take the test in their sophomore and junior years. Note that only your junior-year score counts for National Merit Scholarships.

When do you take the PSAT?

Most students take the PSAT during the fall of their junior year. Some students take the test in the fall of their sophomore year. The PSAT is administered every year in October at many high schools around the U.S. This year's testing dates are October 12 (primary test day), October 15 (Saturday test option), and October 25 (alternate test date).

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