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The PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, is often referred to as the PRACTICE SAT exam…but this is really correct?

Here are the two most common questions that I get asked about the PSAT:
Does the PSAT help to predict future SAT scores?
Does the PSAT have a correlation to performance in college?

Predicting Future SAT scores…

If theory, if you take the PSAT score and multiply by ten, you can estimate an SAT score. For example, if you have a 150 total for the PSAT (Reading 50 Math 50 and Writing 50) it would be reasonable to estimate an equivalent SAT score to 150 x 10 = 1500. This would be considered a median SAT score. But here are some considerations on both sides of the high / low argument:

The PSAT is easier and would produce higher relative scores…

  • The PSAT is 1/2 the length of the SAT – only 5 sections vs 10 and 2:10 v more than 4 hours.
  • The PSAT does not have a written essay like the SAT
  • The PSAT is administered in a students school and they have a ‘home court advantage / comfort level’.

The PSAT is harder and would produce relatively lower scores:

  • The PSAT (and SAT) are about 1/3 Geometry based Math and many 10th graders have not taken enough geometry at that point in their academic careers.
  • Test takers have less overall experience with standardized tests and haven’t master relevant test taking skills and pacing

Does the PSAT correlate to college performance?

In an article published by the ETS / College Board (CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ARTICLE). This article maintains that overall the PSAT and SAT are not predictive of eventual college performance. It is a complicated study however and requires a more through discussion than the scope of this article. They study does conclude that of the 3 sections of the SAT exam, the WRITING section is the most predictive however. An interesting conclusion given that most news coming out about the upcoming changes in the SAT (in 2016) involve dropping the writing section or modifying it completely. Let’s wait and see on that.

Questions? Comments?

Do you want to understand your PSAT scores? For a free analysis of your PSAT scores including a section by section analysis and needs determination: contact Dr Steven Greene at sgreene@makethegrade.net

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