What does my child’s PSAT mean?

Most students took the PSAT on October 13th. So what? It doesn’t count for anything, right? Wrong!…Mostly. Here are some ways the PSAT counts for everyone who takes it:

  1. The PSAT is an opportunity for students to put themselves in a real test setting before taking their first official SAT. It is an chance to “work the nerves out.”
  2. Although the PSAT is 15 minutes shorter than the SAT, it is still 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’s tough to focus for 2 hours and 45 minutes! Movies are rarely longer than 2 hours so they don’t push the limits of people’s attention spans (and frankly, the PSAT is not as entertaining)! Focusing for that long period of time a few more times after taking the PSAT will put students in a better position to maintain their focus for the SAT.

Here is a breakdown of the PSAT 8/9 (taken by freshmen):

  • Section 1 reading: 55 minutes, 42 question
  • Section 2 writing and language: 30 minutes, 40 questions
  • Section 3 math (no calc): 20 minutes, 13 questions
  • Section 4 math (with calc): 40 minutes, 25 questions

The total score scale ranges from 240 to 1440. The section score scale ranges from 120 to 720. Cross test score ranges from 6 to 36.

Here is a breakdown of the PSAT/NMSQT (taken by sophomores and juniors):

  • Section 1 reading: 60 minutes, 47 question
  • Section 2 writing and language: 35 minutes, 44 questions
  • Section 3 math (no calc): 25 minutes, 17 questions
  • Section 4 math (with calc): 45 minutes, 31 questions

The total score scale ranges from 320 to 1520. The section score scale ranges from 160 to 760. Cross test score ranges from 8 to 38.

The cross test scores from each test enable parents and students to compare reading to writing and language to math apples to apples even though the PSAT is 50% math, 25% reading, and 25% writing and language.

The NMSQT part of PSAT/NMSQT stands for “National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.” Here’s how it works: about 1.5 million high school juniors take the PSAT each year. 50,000 of those who take the test qualify for a national merit scholarship. Only 15% of those who qualify receive a national merit scholarship. Earning a scholarship is an 18-month process, which includes consideration of extra-curriculars, GPA, and improvement to the SAT. Last year, NJ and Massachusetts had the highest qualifying scores—each state had a selection index of 222, which is roughly equivalent to a 1480, or 40 points away from a perfect score.

PSAT results will be available online December 6 or 7th. Students will receive their questions, along with a report of what they had incorrect, what wrong answer they put, and the correct answer. For more information on the PSAT/NMSQT, call 732-485-6480 or contact us.

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