Psat explained


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An explanation of the PSAT examination

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  • Today you will learn how to read and use your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report to prepare for the SAT and for college.
  • PSAT/NMSQT Score Report   The sample Score Report on the screen is exactly like the one you will receive. Inside the report are five major parts: 1. Your Scores 2. Review Your Answers 3. Improve Your Skills 4. National Merit Scholarship Programs information 5. Your Educational Plans
  • PSAT/NMSQT Score Report   Notice that each section of the test—Critical Reading, Math and Writing Skills—is in its own color-coded column. Let’s learn how the Score Report is organized by looking closely at the Critical Reading section.
  • PSAT/NMSQT scores are reported in two-digit numbers: 20 (lowest) to 80 (highest). This shows a score of 50. Below, the score is represented as a range.   Ranges are good way to think about scores. They show how much your scores would vary if you took the PSAT/NMSQT again, before gaining new knowledge or skills. Notice that, in this case, the Critical Reading score would be within 4 points above or below 50. So, a score of 48, for example, would be considered similar to a score of 50. Thus, the performance of students with scores between 46 and 54 would be very similar.
  • Percentiles help you compare your performance on the PSAT/NMSQT to the performance of other juniors or sophomores nationwide. For example, if you scored in the 55 th percentile, you scored higher than 55 percent of all the juniors who took the test. It also means that 45 percent of juniors had a score equal to or higher than yours.
  • Another way to understand percentiles is to visualize 100 students lined up from the lowest (or first) percentile at the end of the line to the highest (or 99 th ) percentile at the front of the line. If you are in the 55 th percentile, you would be the 55 th person in line, ahead of 54 people in the line and behind 45.
  • Like the PSAT/NMSQT, scores on the SAT have a range; however, for the SAT, the range is 200 to 800. Adding a “0” [zero] to your PSAT/NMSQT scores gives you a quick estimate of what your SAT scores might be. A Critical Reading score of 50 on the PSAT/NMSQT could be a Critical Reading score of 500 on the SAT. A better way to estimate an SAT score is to look at the “What SAT Ranges Can You Expect?” section at the bottom of the “Your Scores” section.   The College Handbook is an excellent place to look for information about colleges. The SAT scores of the middle 50 percent of enrolled students are listed. Remember this: 25 percent of their students enrolled had higher scores and 25 percent were admitted with lower scores.
  • The middle section of the report is the “Review Your Answers” section. When you receive your Score Report, you will also get your test book, the one you used when you took the test. Using your actual test book will help you make the most of the “Review Your Answers” section, since you’ll be able to go back to questions you got wrong and figure out why. The Critical Reading section contains Sentence Completions and Passage-Based Reading questions. Notice the first column displays the number of each question as it appeared in the test booklet. The second column displays the correct answer to each question. In the third column you will see the answers that you chose: a “checkmark” means CORRECT, O means OMITTED, and an alpha letter shows the incorrect answer you chose. In the fourth column of the Critical Reading section we see the letters E, M, or H, which identify the level of difficulty of each question. E means EASY questions, M means MEDIUM difficulty, and H means HARD (the most difficult questions on the test). Remember: this test is for high school juniors who are preparing for college, so it’s possible that an E or easy question might seem difficult to younger students.
  • The Math section contains Multiple-Choice and Student Produced Response Questions. The “Review Your Answers” section contains the same information as in the Critical Reading section, but adds an additional column labeled “Content.” Here you will see what kind of question was asked: Algebra & Functions (Alg), Data Analysis, Statistics & Probability (Data), Geometry & Measurement (Geom), or Number & Operations (Num).
  • Not all the math questions on the PSAT/NMSQT are multiple-choice. On one part of the Math section, students solve problems and then record answers on a grid. Only answers gridded in the ovals were scored; you received no credit for answers, even correct ones, written in boxes and not gridded or gridded incorrectly.
  • Just below the “Review Your Answers” table is a breakdown of your answers. In this example, the student answered 29 out of the 52 Critical Reading questions correctly and earned 29 points. This section also shows how many of the 29 correct answers were easy, medium, or hard, how many the student omitted—1—and finally, how many points were lost for incorrect answers.  
  • The most valuable part of the Score Report is the “Improve Your Skills” section, which offers personalized feedback on the academic skills you have the best chance to improve with additional work. For each section of the test, Critical Reading, Math and Writing, the Score Report lists two or three skills that need some improvement, as identified by answers to questions on the PSAT/NMSQT. Under each skill that needs work are suggestions for how to improve that particular skill. Follow the suggestions to improve in each area.
  • In this section we see information about eligibility for scholarships available through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Each student who takes the PSAT/NMSQT has a Selection Index . The Selection Index is the sum of the Critical Reading, Math, and Writing Skills scores (CR+M+W). To enter competition for Merit Scholarships, a student must: 1.        be a full-time high school student; 2.        graduate the following year and enroll in college full-time; 3.        complete grades 9-12 in four years; and 4.        be a U.S. citizen.   If your Selection Index has an asterisk (*) next to it, this means you do not meet all the eligibility requirements for entrance into the competition. Typically, it is because you are not graduating next year.   More than one million juniors enter this competition each year. About 55,000 qualify for recognition, and only about 9,000 of these receive an award. Be sure to look at your own Selection Index and eligibility when you receive your Score Report. It usually takes a percentile rank of 96 or higher to continue in the competition.
  • “ Your Educational Plans” contains a combination of information. On your answer sheet, you provided:           grade average; and           a college major of interest Based on the major you provided on their answer sheet, the Score Report gives a description of what college students learn and do with that major. The Score Report also states the associated skills related to that major, and the recommended high school courses you should take, other majors to consider, and careers associated with that major. Read this part of the Score Report closely to see how well your future plans match your current interests, skills, and the courses you will be taking.
  • Unlike the PSAT/NMSQT, the new SAT will have higher-level math questions and an essay assignment. To get ready for the SAT, students should review the SAT Practice Essay and SAT Math Practice Questions on the back of the PSAT/NMSQT Score Report. provides free answers and explanations for these higher level-math questions, essay directions, official scoring guide, and samples of student-written essays.
  • Psat explained

    1. 1. Understanding PSAT/NMSQT Results The PSAT/NMSQT is cosponsored by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
    2. 2. Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report
    3. 3. PSAT/NMSQT Score Report <ul><li>Each section— Critical Reading, Math and Writing Skills—is color-coded </li></ul>
    4. 4. Your Scores Ranges 46 . . . . . . . . . . . 50 . . . . . . . . . . . 54
    5. 5. Percentiles <ul><li>If you are a junior, you are compared to other juniors. </li></ul><ul><li>If you are a sophomore, or younger, you are compared to sophomores. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Percentiles 1 . . . . . . . . . . . 55 . . . . . . . .. . . 100 higher than 54 juniors lower than 45 juniors
    7. 7. What SAT Ranges Can You Expect? <ul><ul><li>The quick way to estimate your SAT score is to add a “0” to your PSAT/NMSQT score. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PSAT/NMSQT Critical Reading Score: 50 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Estimated SAT Critical Reading Score: 500 </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Review Your Answers <ul><li>Question number </li></ul><ul><li>Correct Answer </li></ul><ul><li>Your Answer </li></ul><ul><li>Level of Difficulty </li></ul><ul><li>You will get your test book with your score report, so you can review the questions you got wrong. </li></ul><ul><li>Free explanations for the answer to every test question at </li></ul>
    9. 9. Review Your Answers: Math <ul><li>Also shows the math content area of each question: </li></ul><ul><li>Alg = Algebra & Functions </li></ul><ul><li>Data = Data Analysis, Statistics & Probability </li></ul><ul><li>Geom = Geometry & Measurement </li></ul><ul><li>Num = Number & Operations </li></ul>
    10. 10. Review Your Answers: Math Student-Produced Response
    11. 11. Answer Summary & Scoring <ul><li>Correct answer = plus 1 point </li></ul><ul><li>Omitted answers = no points </li></ul><ul><li>Wrong answers to multiple-choice questions = minus ¼ point. (To discourage students from blind or random guessing.) </li></ul><ul><li>Wrong answers to math questions 29-38 (Student Produced Responses) = No points lost. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Improve Your Skills <ul><li>The skills listed are based on your individual performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the suggestions to improve in each area. </li></ul>
    13. 13. National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) Programs <ul><li>Selection Index </li></ul><ul><li>Percentile </li></ul><ul><li>Entry Requirements </li></ul>
    14. 14. Your Educational Plans <ul><li>Based on the college major you provided on the answer sheet, this section will give you: </li></ul><ul><li>Description of what college students learn and do with that major. </li></ul><ul><li>Associated skills </li></ul><ul><li>Recommended high school courses </li></ul><ul><li>Other majors to consider </li></ul><ul><li>Associated careers </li></ul>
    15. 15. After You Receive Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report <ul><li>Review your answers using the test booklet </li></ul>
    16. 16. After You Receive Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report: <ul><li>Go to psatextra for free explanations for the answers to every test question, including why wrong answers were wrong. (You’ll need the code on the upper right corner of your score report.) </li></ul>
    17. 17. After You Receive Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report: <ul><li>Follow the suggestions for how to improve in the Improve Your Skills section </li></ul>
    18. 18. After You Receive Your Score Report: <ul><li>Review the SAT Practice Essay and SAT Math Practice Questions on the back of your PSAT/NMSQT Score Report </li></ul><ul><li>Go to psatextra for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Answers and explanations for these higher level-math questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Essay directions, official scoring guide, and samples of student-written essays </li></ul></ul>