What is a good PSAT score?

Are you interested in taking and trying to know what a good PSAT score is? But the answer to a good PSAT score is not straight forward. It depends on you, but you need to have an excellent understanding of the PSAT score report. You should know what this report shows and also the aim score you want to achieve.

In this blog, we'll explain the PSAT report and how to determine a good PSAT score for you.

PSAT Score Report:

Before determining a good PSAT score, you need to know that the score report not only shows one PSAT but many. You will see eight scores in a PSAT report when you will receive after giving the exam, which are:

Scaled Total Score:

The scaled total score is the most important score of them all. It is also the score provided first in the report. Students are looking for this score when the result comes. The reason because it's the actual score you get out of 1520. Keep in mind that the PSAT score is out of 1520, but the SAT exam is out of 1600. The scale of this test score is from 320 to 1520, in 10 points increment.

This score is of two sections, which are Math and EBRW( Evidence-based reading and writing). Half of the score(760) is of EBRW, and the other is math(760).

Scaled section score

The scaled section score is the same as the scaled total score. But the only difference is that the scaled total score gives you the combined score of both sections. And the mounted section gives you different math and EBRW scores from 160 - 760 for each in 10 points increment.

Section test score:

It is the score that is then further division of scores. Here, you will get a score of separate sections of math, reading, and writing. This score is on a scale of 8 to 38 in a 1 points increment. It helps you know the separate section score of you, allowing you to decide to work more on which section the most. 

Raw Scores:

The raw score is the PSAT score based on the questions with correct answers for each section. But the highest score a student can get is 47 and 44 for reading and writing, respectively, and 48 for math.


Subscores are the ones to the best score to understand your ability. There are seven types of subscores for your performance. These subscores are on question types and skills in all three sections. Every subscore has given on a scale of 1-15 in a 1-point increment.

Cross-test score:

The score is particularly for science and history-based questions in reading, writing, math. The scale of each cross-test is from 8 to 38.

Selection Index score:

It's the score you will not see on the SAT score report as it is a score only given on the PSAT score report. This score is for the scholarship qualification used by National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The scale range of this score is from 48 to 228.


The percentile is the score you may get confused with a percentage, but both these are different. The Percentage is a score by a fraction of 100. And a percentile is your score comparison with the other test-takers.

The percentile score shows how better your score in comparison to other test-takers. For example, if your percentile score is 81, it shows that your score was better than 81% of the test-takers. The higher your percentile score, the better your score compared to other students.


Most Important PSAT Score:

The scores known as the essential PSAT scores are - the Scaled total score and the scaled section score. 

The purpose of the PSAT exam is the practice of the SAT examination. It gives you an idea of how you are going to score in the SAT exam. It shows you lack or better than expected, and both these scores give you this idea.

But this doesn't mean other scores are not important enough. Each score tells you about your performance from a different perspective. If considered Raw score, it shows which question you were unable to solve in the exam. Using this score, you can find which type of inquiries you failed to answer, on which you can work later.

Subscores can be a crucial part of understanding your skill. It shows at question types; you performed well. Subscore can give you specific knowledge and areas of improvement. No other score provides this type of information.And as per the scholarship perspective, the Selection index score is the most crucial. Suppose your purpose of giving the PSAT exam is not only to practice for the SAT exam but also to earn a scholarship. Then the importance of the PSAT exam increases, and hence the importance of this score.

Although it is not your actual score, it is still your selection index. Each state in the US has its selection index score cut off. This cut-off decides whether you qualified for the scholarship. After understanding the score report and its importance now, we need to look at the main question. What is a good PSAT score?

Good PSAT score:

As mentioned in the beginning, a good PSAT score is dependent on the test-taker. As the purpose of PSAT is the practice of the SAT exam, a good PSAT score depends on what a student wants. So he only wants to achieve a good SAT score or if he/she wants to gain a scholarship.

There are three ways to determine a good PSAT score:

  • By Percentile score
  • Through National Merit
  • According to interesting Colleges

Percentile Score:

As mentioned above, the percentile is a way to know how you performed compared to other students. For example, If your percentile is 70, you performed better than 70% of students who appeared for the exam.

This percentile score is dependent on the specific score range. Each score range has given a percentile score. Thus, to get the percentile you want, you need to score in the score range of that percentile score. For example, if you think 81 is a good percentile for you, your SAT score should be 1200.

The following is the percentile table of composite PSAT Score:

Composite PSAT Score 1
Composite PSAT Score 2
Composite PSAT Score 3

Generally, the above 50th percentile (above 1010 percentile score) is a good PSAT score. This because it shows your score above most students who attended the exam. 

But that doesn't mean the 50th percentile is better for you; in your case, it may be 90 or 70. If you aim for an elite college, the 50th percentile score will be much higher than 1010. When it comes to national merit, a PSAT score of 99+ considered as best. It is the highest possible percentile score you will get. Not only for the total score, but there is also a percentile score for both the sections. Math and EBRW don't have the same percentile score as the score range differs. Maths is more competitive compared to EBRW. 

The following is the table of percentile score of Math and EBRW:

PSAT percentile score of Math and EBRW 1
PSAT percentile score of Math and EBRW 2
PSAT percentile score of Math and EBRW 3
PSAT percentile score of Math and EBRW 4
PSAT percentile score of Math and EBRW 5

It means you need a higher PSAT score compared to EBRW to get the same number of percentile. To score 50th percentile, you need a score between 490-500 for EBRW and 510-520 for Math.

National Merit:

If you aim for a national metric scholarship program from NMSC, the highest score is good. As per NMSC, the top 3% to 4% scorers are the commended students, and the top 1% considered as a semi-finalist. They can apply to become a finalist and win scholarship money.

NMSC uses the selection index for determining students for national merit recognition. Yet, for eligibility, every state has its selection index cut-off. The cut-off has slight change every year. Thus, a good score in the case of national merit is the state's selection index score.

Before going further, we need to know how to calculate the selection index. For this, you need to add the test score of all sections and then multiply it by 2.

For example, if your test score of reading is 35, writing is 36, and math is 34, you need to add all three. It gives 105, divide it by 2, and get a selection index score, as 210. Now it depends on the state's cut-off whether you are going to qualify or not.

The following is the table showing the selection index score of every state. Note that we created this table with crowdsource data provided by students in the US. This because NMSC doesn't share a list of the cut-offs; it only shares your state cut-off. The data is of October 2019; every year, there is a slight change in the cut-off, Although you can use it for reference. 

National merit score as per states of USA (October 2019):

National merit score as per states of USA 1
National merit score as per states of USA 2
National merit score as per states of USA 3
National merit score as per states of USA 4

In the given table, the highest score is 223, and the lowest is 212. In comparison, the average score of the cut-off is 218. We can consider 218 as an excellent national score. But, the actual good score depends on states. 

The highest selection index score you can get is 228, at a 38 in all the sections. The average score is 218, but you should aim 4-5 points above when aiming for a scholarship. Aiming for a higher score is a better way as the cut-off may change every year. But to aim for a good selection index score, you need to find the section test score of each section. For this, you need to divide your state's selection index score by two and then again divide it by 3. 

For example, let's take a selection index score of Montana, which is 214. After dividing it by 2 and then 3, we get 35.6, which we will consider 36. It shows, if you want to score a cut-off of 214, then you need to score 36 for all three sections.  But most of the time, students are not good at both. Thus, try to aim higher for the section you may perform better than the other. For example, if you are good at math, then aim for 37 or 38 in the math section.


College admission is the main reason people attend PSAT and SAT exams. Hence, college can be one reason to determine a good SAT score. For this, you need to look at the SAT score of your interested college. By the college SAT score, you can predict a good PSAT score.

To predict where you are currently scoring on SAT, you can use the PSAT score as a benchmark score. It will give you an idea of which skill you will work on to prepare for the SAT exam, which will help you get a SAt goal score. Although you should keep in mind, the max PSAT score is 1520, whereas the max SAT score is 1600. PSAT Exam can't compare the score to your SAT Score. Also, the PSAT exam is a more comfortable exam than the actual SAT exam.

Still, it is a better way to analyze the PSAT score and predict the SAT score. You can also check the college's PSAT percentile score to check your performance. For example, if your average SAT score of your interested college is 1250, you should aim much above 1250.


Finally, you may understand how to determine a good PSAT score. And also that "a good PSAT score" is more dependent on the student. 

Now you know what the PSAT score report is? Which PSAT score is the most important and the importance of all the PSAT scores. By this score report, you can determine your score by your aim for the SAT examination. If you are focusing on the scholarship, a good score is a scholarship qualification score. But to be eligible for the National Metric, you need to be the top scorer of the PSAT exam. And now, you may understand through this blog how to aim for the NAtional metric. 

Last, as mentioned above, the PSAT exam's purpose is to practice for the upcoming SAT exam. The scores you score in the PSAT exam don't have a direct effect on the SAT score. Thus, the PSAT score should consider, only for prediction. Especially for the SAT exam's primary purpose, college admission.



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