Thursday, December 6, 2012

How do I interpret my student's PSAT score report?

Today I sent out a push page to UD parents in regards to PSAT score reports being distributed back to their students.  

I told the parents to keep seven things in mind as they discuss the PSAT report with their students.

First, PSAT scores are NOT reported or used in college admissions.   However, colleges do purchase student names from the PSAT to begin recruiting prospective students.

 Second, PSAT categorical scores are easily converted to a SAT score by adding a 0 (i.e.  M:  -> 55; 550,  CR:  60 -> 600, W:  49 -> 490).

 Third, most college admissions still ONLY use the Math and Critical Reading sections (1600 scale) in their application assessment.  Moreover, colleges are required to only submit Math and Critical Reading averages (75th-25th percentiles) for ranking purposes to magazines like US News and World Report.

 Fourth, for 11th grade students, the 2012 National Merit qualifying score for Oklahoma was 206.  This score changes each year and for each state.  We won’t know what the 2013 NM qualifying score is until August.

 Fifth, studies show that most students average a 30-150 point improvement on their SAT score.  This normally occurs when a student re-takes the SAT for a second time.  A 300 point spike is very matter the amount or quality of test prep.  (This Times blog post attempts to debunk myth of test prep.)

Sixth, Casady students generally perform better on the ACT.  Last year, for example, 89% of the Class of 2012 scored highest on the ACT.

Seventh, the SAT and ACT are interchangeable credentials to college admissions.  In fact, this year was the first year nationally that the ACT was more popular than the SAT (see article).  In addition, some colleges are “test flexible” in that they will take 3 SAT II Subject Tests or 3 AP scores (i.e. NYU) instead of the ACT or SAT.  Moreover, 800+ colleges are “test optional” in that they don’t require a test score (Bowdoin, Wake Forest, Middlebury, Sewanee).  Go to this link to peruse this list:

It's important then that you reach out to your college counselor if you have any follow-up questions about the PSAT score report or standardized testing in general.

If they aren't available, please don't hesitate to email me at  I'd be glad to help.