Understanding the Redesigned PSAT Scoring
Last October, students got their first glimpse of the redesigned PSAT and a preview of what they can expect on the redesigned SAT, which will be administered for the first time in March 2016. Similar to the SAT, the PSAT was redesigned to assess more directly those skills most relevant to college and career readiness, and to better reflect what students learn in school.
As educators, understanding the score reports and what they represent is integral to determining your students’ strengths, areas of improvement, and how to focus your instruction to positively impact your students’ results.
PSAT Test Scores
The redesigned score reports were released online for the first time in early January. Here is a sample student report, which includes information on test scores, including section and cross-section subscores, as well as college and career-readiness benchmarks, and the National Merit Scholarship Program.
On the redesigned test, each section (Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) is scored between 160 to 760, for a possible score range of 320 to 1520. Since the PSAT is slightly shorter and does not include the most rigorous questions, the top score on the PSAT is a 1520, compared to a 1600 on the SAT.
Previously, the highest score achievable on the PSAT was 240. This has led to questions regarding how this year’s PSAT scores relate to scores from past years’ tests. To see how scores on the redesigned test compare to the previous version you can view this table. For example, a student scoring a 210 on the 2014 version would be equivalent to scoring a 1420 on the redesigned 2015 test.
Let’s learn more about the Section and Cross-Section Subscores.
The Math test includes three subscores, each on a 15-point scale, in the following domains:
- Heart of Algebra
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis
- Passport to Advanced Math
The Writing and Language test includes two subscores, both also on a 15-point scale:
- Expression of Ideas
- Standard English Conventions
Instructors will be able to use students’ subscores to identify their strengths and areas for improvement on the test sections, which will enable you to focus your lesson planning on the areas that require the most attention.
Score reports also include two cross-section scores that include questions on both the Reading and Writing and Language sections of the test. The cross-section scores are
- Command of Evidence
- Words in Context
Both will be reported on a 15-point scale and tie back to major principals driving the redesign of the SAT, including a push to make the reading and writing tasks more authentic and closely aligned to how students will read and interpret texts in high school, college, and beyond.
Cross Test Scores
Finally, score reports will include two scores that include questions across all sections of the test. The Science and History/Social Studies cross test scores will be reported on a 1-40 scale. Rather than devoting a specific test section to Science and History content, the PSAT instead has questions sprinkled throughout the test that incorporate content and skills from these areas.
Students may, for instance, see math questions that incorporate a physics formula, reading questions about a passage on an evolutionary phenomenon, and writing questions that require them to edit a passage to best reflect the data presented in a chart. All three question types would contribute to the science cross-test score.
Science and history teachers may be particularly interested in student performance on the cross test scores and in reviewing the test questions that contribute to those scores in order to get a better idea of how skills learned in your classes may apply to the test.
How to use PSAT Scores
In addition to the scores and subscores, the PSAT score reports will include a predicted SAT score, which can be used as students and college counselors begin to plan for a student’s test-taking plans during junior year and college application plans during senior year.
College Board also plans to release a set of concordance tables throughout 2016 that will help students and schools to better contextualize scores. The concordance tables will include:
- Redesigned PSAT to old PSAT
- Redesigned SAT to old SAT (will be released in May 2016)
- Redesigned SAT to ACT (will be released in May 2016)
In a year of great transition for the SAT and the College Board, the PSAT will be an invaluable tool for educators to use to identify your students’ strengths and areas of improvement, allowing you to focus your instruction to get the best possible results.
We’re Here to Help
Do you have questions about the new PSAT, its relationship to the SAT, or how to use the results to focus your lesson planning to target students’ areas for improvement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or reach out to us directly at the location nearest to you!