PSAT Scores. What do PSAT scores mean

December 10, 2018, by

Your PSAT Scores Can Guide You

This week sophomores and juniors across the country are receiving their scores from the October PSAT/NMSQT. Students will get PSAT/NMSQT scores December 10th–12th (the date your scores are released depends on your state).

But what do the test results mean?

Taking the PSAT showed you, in a slightly shorter format, what it feels like to take the SAT. Your PSAT score will give you a sense of your strengths and weaknesses, and you can use it to help you decide between taking the ACT or SAT. An exceptional score on the PSAT may also qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program, but we generally advise students not to focus too much on that award. Prestigious as it is, achieving the score is very difficult, especially in Maryland, DC, and VA.

With your PSAT score in hand, you and your parents should begin to consider whether you will ultimately take the SAT or ACT. Not sure how to choose? We can walk you through the steps to pick the test that’s right for you: How to Decide Which Test to Take – ACT or SAT.

Once you’ve decided which test is right for you, consider what test dates make the most sense for you and your family. When is your family going on vacation? When are your big sports tournaments? Are you taking several AP exams in the spring?

Our test prep tutoring clients generally work with us for 2-3 months before their first test and take the test at least twice. If you are a junior and have not yet begun test preparation, your junior year testing schedule might look like this:


ACT Prep Timeline:

  • Begin test preparation in January
  • First test date: April
  • Second test date: June
  • Third test date (if needed): July

SAT Prep Timeline:

  • Begin test preparation in December
  • First test date: March
  • Second test date: June
  • Third test date (if needed): August

Know when to prepare.

If you are a sophomore, you can still use your PSAT scores to guide your decisions on when to begin testing. If you have high score already and are in advanced math classes, you may be able to prep for the SAT or ACT in the summer before 11th grade and take the test for the first time in the late summer or early fall.

Some colleges may also recommend the SAT Subject Tests, but most now consider them optional. If you are taking AP tests, those are in May, but you can take Subject tests in May or June. The Subject Tests are offered on the same dates as the SAT, so you will need to plan accordingly if you are taking the SAT and any Subject Tests.  Read more here about whether or not you should include SAT Subject Tests in your testing plan.

Ideally, you will be done taking the ACT or SAT before your senior year, so that you can focus your attention and energy on your college applications. However, one test can definitely be squeezed in if you can prep over the summer. Once school starts, The ACT is offered in September, October, and December. The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are offered in October, November, and December.

Still not sure where to go from here? Contact Marks Education today for a free consultation on the best test plan for you!

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