How To Understand Your PSAT Score

PSAT scores are in, and students are left wondering what their score signifies. Did I do well? How does my score compare to others? What do all these difference numbers and categories on my performance report mean?

Use our short guide to get a pulse on your score and how you can use it to help prepare for the SAT and earn money for college.

Checking and analyzing your score

You can access your score online at Once you’re logged in, the first thing you will see is your Total Score. This is the combination of your scores from the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math sections.

What is a percentile?

As you continue reviewing your performance report, you can find your score percentile for the two sections. The percentile is an indicator of how well you compare against all of the other PSAT test-takers in the United States. The higher percentage you see, the better you performed on the test.

The User Percentile: examines your score compared to the scores of real College Board test-takers for specific grades.

The Nationally Representative Sample Percentile: benchmarks your score against the scores of average U.S. students for specific grades.

What is the College Benchmark on my PSAT report?

Another key indicator you will come across is the College Benchmark. This is the PSAT’s gauge for “how ready you are for college. Landing in the Red on the barometer shows that you may need to get on track or focus on certain skills to help you get ready for college, and falling in the Green indicates that you are on track.

What is the sub-score breakdown section?

The sub-score breakdown section of your report goes deeper into your performance across seven sub-categories: Command of Evidence, Words in Context, Expression of Ideas, Standard English Conventions, Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. This is a phenomenal opportunity for you to understand what areas you may want to spend more time studying, and the others where you already have a grasp.

RaiseMe Insight: We know that receiving your score can be nerve-racking. But instead of letting the stress of going through the comparisons and benchmarks overwhelm you, take a deep breath and stay positive. The PSAT is known as a practice test for a reason. Take your time going through your score report to glean the information you need to do your best when you take the real thing later in high school.

Check out this article for a refresh on all the benefits of taking the PSAT.

Reflecting on your PSAT score

Now that you’ve examined your score and thoughtfully analyzed the report, you should spend some time reflecting. We’ve provided some questions to consider in your reflection.

  1. Based on your overall performance, what are you most proud of?
  2. How do you feel about your Math score?
  3. How do you feel about your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score?
  4. From what you see in the subscore breakdown, what skills are your strengths? What courses can you take in the future to challenge yourself further in that area(s)?
  5. What are the skills you’d like to improve? Consider the courses you can take to get more practice in those development areas.
  6. Think back on test day from the PSAT. Are there things that went well that you want to replicate on the SAT day? Are there things you’d wish you did differently?
  7. A few months out from the SAT later in high school, create a study plan that will help build confidence and give you practice.

Getting money for the PSAT

As you analyze and reflect, you should also pause and give yourself a pat on the back! Taking the PSAT is an accomplishment in and of itself. And the benefits are two-fold: you are now in a better position to do your best you on the SAT down the road, and you can earn scholarships for a job well done on the exam!

Now that you’ve taken the exam, you are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program — an academic competition for college scholarships and recognition. This program You can also earn micro-scholarships on RaiseMe! Log in to your account to earn micro-scholarships from partner colleges for just taking the exam, and to see if you qualify for more micro-scholarships from scoring well on it.


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