The scores for the 2015 new PSAT National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test were released today in a totally different format from past years. There’s a lot of confusion, with people trying to use the College Board PSAT/NMSQT Preliminary 2015 Concordance Tables. And I’ll try to explain why there’s all the confusion as I work through the new scores below. Here is what I’ve been able to piece together from numerous sources.
How to interpret PSAT scores for the new PSAT/NMSQT 2015
How the PSAT/NMSQT scale has changed
- The PSAT scale on the new PSAT/NMSQT has been changed so that it won’t be as hard to figure out how well you’ll do on the SAT compared to the PSAT. On the old test, the PSAT was on a scale of 240 while the SAT was on a scale of 2400, but the scores were not equivalent. (You could NOT multiply your PSAT score by 10 to approximate your SAT score.)
- On the newly designed SAT and PSAT, scores will be reported on “equivalent” scales. Supposedly, that means your PSAT score will be a accurate predictor of what you would have made on the SAT if you’d taken that test instead, on the same day. Now, the SAT is longer and supposed to be a more difficult than the PSAT. So the PSAT is on a 1520 scale and the SAT is on a 1600 scale.
Why there are 2 PSAT/NMSQT Scores
- There are actually two different PSAT/NMSQT SCORES
- The first score, the PSAT/NMSQT score on the 1520 scale, is on a scale equivalent to the new SAT, starting in March 2016.
- The second score is the NMSC Selection Index score. It’s the PSAT/NMSQT score the National Merit Corporation will use when determining the cut-off scores for National Merit Semi-finalists by state. (The National Merit Semi-Finalist qualifying scores are different for different states, and can change every year. For reference, here is the list of the 2014 National Merit Semi-Finalist qualifying scores by state, for 2016 graduating seniors, released in September 2015.)
- Why did they do this? I can’t remember exactly where I read this, I think it was on the College Board site, but apparently the new score puts reading and writing together, giving math 50% of the score. The National Merit Corporation still wanted math to only represent 30% of the score, as it did in the past. That’s why there are now two scores. Essentially, the College Board is giving you the PSAT to SAT conversion up front, which when you think about it, is useful to the most students. Less than 1% of the students will qualify for National Merit.
How to find your PSAT/NMSQT Score (on the 1520 scale)*
- Log into your account at the College Board
- In the left hand menu, click on >PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 8/9 Scores
- This will bring up your most recent score, your PSAT/NMSQT score. You’ll see your new score on the 1520 scale, and the break down of your Reading & Writing and Math scores.
How to find your NMSC Selection Index score (your PSAT/NMSQT Score on the 228 scale)*
- Continuing from above, Click on > View Details.
- This will take you to Report Details and again show your new score on the 1520 scale, and the break down of your Reading & Writing and Math scores.
- Click on > NMSC Selection Index
- This is where you’ll see your selection index, which looks a lot like the score from previous years.
- However, this “National Merit Selection Index Score” is not exactly the same as the scores from previous years. In previous years, the scores were reported on a 240 scale. This year, the scale is 228. So your score won’t convert straight across to try to predict what your score means compared to previous years’ National Merit Scholar Semifinalist cut-off scores.
So, do you have a chance at qualifying as a National Merit Semi-Finalist? If you’re a sophomore, do you have a shot next year? A lot of this will be guesswork, no matter where you read the information. I’ll be working on converting old scores into new scores. In my next post, I cover how to convert your 2015 PSAT score to the equivalent of a PSAT scores in past years.
For tips to improve your SAT score and PSAT score, see my post about the best tools to improve your SAT score. I’ll be updating with a post for the new SAT, but this will get you started.
Some more articles on interpreting and understanding PSAT scores:
*If you navigate away from these pages, here’s how to find your way back if you’re already logged in.
- Click on >PSAT/NMSQT in the top menu.
- Click on >PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 from the second menu.
- In the middle, click on Get PSAT/NMSQT Scores Now
- This is where you’ll see your new score on the 1520 scale, and the break down of your Reading & Writing and Math scores.
- Click on > View Details.