PSAT Scoring: How to Calculate Your Score and More
How is the PSAT scored? Read our guide to learn everything there is to know about PSAT scoring and how to calculate your scores in a few easy steps.
- Many high school students take the PSAT to prepare for the SAT and to qualify for scholarships.
- The PSAT uses a scoring scale of 320-1520.
- You can calculate your total score using an official PSAT scoring chart.
- In general, you can miss up to one question on each PSAT section and still earn a perfect score.
Each year, millions of high school students across the U.S. sit for the PSAT. This exam not only offers practice for the SAT but also determines National Merit Scholarship eligibility. Getting a high PSAT score means you'll likely perform similarly on the SAT.
But how is the PSAT scored? We created this guide to help you understand everything there is to know about PSAT scoring, from how raw scores translate into scaled scores to how many questions you can afford to miss on test day.
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How Is the PSAT Scored?
The total PSAT score range is 320-1520. This means the highest PSAT score you can get is a 1520. But how are these scores determined?
First, the College Board calculates your raw score for each section: Math, Reading, and Writing and Language. Your raw score equals the number of questions you answered correctly. There is no penalty for wrong or blank answers.
Next, the College Board uses a special equating process, which accounts for slight variations in difficulty among tests, to convert your raw scores into scaled test scores. These test scores have a range of 8-38.
Finally, the College Board converts your test scores into section scores on a scale of 160-760. You'll get a Math score and a combined Reading and Writing score called Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW).
Add together your Math and EBRW section scores to get your total PSAT score out of 1520.
What Are PSAT Subscores and Cross-Test Scores?
Besides the scores above, your PSAT score report will include subscores and cross-test scores, which offer further insight into your strengths and weaknesses.
Subscores use a scale of 1-15. They reflect your performance on certain question types found on different sections of the exam. Here are the seven subscores and what sections they appear on:
- Command of Evidence (Reading, Writing)
- Words in Context (Reading, Writing)
- Expression of Ideas (Writing)
- Standard English Conventions (Writing)
- Heart of Algebra (Math)
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis (Math)
- Passport to Advanced Math (Math)
You'll also get two cross-test scores, scored on a scale of 8-38. Questions that contribute to your cross-test scores may appear on any PSAT section.
The two cross-test scores are:
- Analysis in History/Social Studies
- Analysis in Science
What Is the National Merit Selection Index Score?
Unlike the SAT, the PSAT includes a score called the Selection Index. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses this score to determine which test-takers (11th graders only) may qualify for a National Merit Scholarship.
The Selection Index uses a range of 48-228. To calculate your Selection Index, add together your test scores for Math, Reading, and Writing, and then double the sum.
The Selection Index score you need to progress in the National Merit Scholarship Program will vary depending on the testing year and your state of residence. For example, in 2020, test-takers in West Virginia needed a Selection Index of 207 to qualify, whereas test-takers in Maryland needed a score of 224.
How to Calculate Your PSAT Score in 5 Simple Steps
Below are five easy steps you can take to calculate your PSAT score. Make sure you use the PSAT scoring chart that comes with your practice test to find your score.
If your practice test doesn't come with a score chart, you can estimate your scaled scores using the sample PSAT score chart in the following section.
Step 1: Tally Up Your Raw Scores
First, you'll need to find your raw score. To do this, simply add up the number of questions you answered correctly on the Reading, Writing, and Math sections.
Give yourself 1 point for every question you got right. Remember there is no score penalty for incorrect answers, so you should always put down an answer, even if you have to guess.
Example: Gina took the College Board's PSAT Practice Test #1. She answered 20 Reading questions correctly, 19 Writing questions correctly, and 40 Math questions correctly. These are her raw scores.
Step 2: Find Your Math Section Score
The next step is to find your Math section score. To do this, take your raw score for Math and consult your practice test's PSAT scoring chart. This table will show you what section score out of 760 your raw Math score translates to.
Example: Gina consults the PSAT Practice Test #1 Scoring Guide. She answered 40 Math questions correctly, which corresponds to a 36 test score and a section score of 720, according to her test's PSAT scoring chart.
Step 3: Calculate Your Reading and Writing Scores
You'll now want to calculate your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score. Start by taking your raw scores for Reading and Writing and converting them into test scores (out of 38) using your practice test's PSAT scoring chart.
Next, add together these two test scores — you should get a number out of 76. Finally, multiply this sum by 10 to get your EBRW section score out of 760.
Example: Gina earned a raw Reading score of 20, which translates to a test score of 23, and a raw Writing score of 19, which translates to a test score of 21. She adds together these raw scores and gets a 44. She then multiplies this sum by 10, which gives her a final EBRW section score of 440.
Step 4: Determine Your Total PSAT Score
To find your total PSAT score, simply add your Math and EBRW section scores together. This number should fall somewhere in the range of 320-1520.
Example: Gina adds together her Math section score (720) and her EBRW section score (440), giving her a total PSAT score of 1160.
Step 5 (Optional): Find Your Selection Index Score
Juniors and students planning to take the PSAT their junior year may want to see whether their PSAT scores could qualify them for a National Merit Scholarship.
To calculate your Selection Index score, add together your Math, Reading, and Writing test scores. Then, multiply the sum by 2.
Example: Gina adds together her three test scores (23 on Reading, 21 on Writing, and 36 on Math) and gets 80. She then mutiplies this sum by 2, giving her a Selection Index of 160 out of 228.
How Many Questions Can You Miss on the PSAT?
To calculate PSAT scores, the College Board uses a special equating process, which takes into account differences in difficulty among exams. In other words, how raw scores translate into scaled scores varies slightly with each test.
As a result, test-takers on one test date won't get an advantage over those taking the PSAT on a different test date.
This is why you must use the PSAT score chart for your specific practice test when converting raw scores into test and section scores.
If your test doesn't have a scoring guide, you can use the following PSAT scoring chart to estimate how your raw scores may translate into scaled scores. We created this PSAT scoring chart by combining the scoring tables from the College Board's two PSAT practice tests.
|Raw Score/Number of Correct Answers||Math Section Score||Reading Test Score||Writing and Language Test Score|
Based on the chart above, you can generally miss one question on each section and still get the max PSAT score of 1520.
However, this can vary depending on the difficulty of the exam. If your PSAT contains harder questions, you may be able to miss 2-3 questions and still get a perfect score.
You can use this PSAT scoring chart to estimate how many questions you can afford to miss on test day. For example, if your target score is 1400, you might aim for the following test/section scores:
- Math: 700 (miss at most around six questions)
- Reading: 35 (miss at most around six questions)
- Writing: 35 (miss at most around four questions)
Frequently Asked Questions About PSAT Scoring
Why do PSAT score conversions differ for each test?
PSAT score conversions differ for each test to account for variations in difficulty. So on a more difficult test, you'd have to answer fewer questions correctly to get the same scaled score you'd need on an easier test.
In other words, a scaled PSAT score will always indicate the same level of achievement, regardless of when you took the exam.
What is a good PSAT score?
What you consider a good PSAT score depends on your specific goals and circumstances. For most, though, a score somewhere around the 75th percentile can generally be considered a good PSAT score, as this means you performed better than a majority of test-takers.
If you're hoping to get a National Merit Scholarship, you'll need to earn a Selection Index score that's high enough to meet your state's minimum cutoff. Usually, this means you must score in the top 1% of test-takers.
Where can you find high-quality PSAT practice tests?
When preparing for the PSAT, try to prioritize PSAT practice tests on the College Board website. The two official full-length tests offer the most realistic questions and provide charts you can use to calculate your PSAT score.
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