Communicating with Students About the PSAT/NMSQT

As high school teachers and administrators, you understand the importance of the PSAT/NMSQT. As standardized test experts, we also get it. Students, however, have widely varying information and opinions about the PSAT/NMSQT, and it usually falls to educators to help get them on the same page. With the big test on the horizon, here are several questions you may get from students and how to answer them. What’s the difference between the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT? NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and this version of the PSAT is given to juniors during the fall semester. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT your junior year might make you eligible for National Merit distinctions or scholarships. The National Merit Scholarship Program honors the students with the top 50,000 PSAT scores across the United States, but it’s not required for admission to college. The PSAT 10 is administered to sophomores in spring semester. The only difference between the PSAT 10 and PSAT/NMSQT is that students who take the PSAT 10 will not be considered for the National Merit Scholarship Program (you must be a junior to qualify). What’s a good score? It depends on what you mean by “good.” The PSAT is scored between 320 and 1520, with a range of 160-760 for both Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW). For reference, the SAT is scored between 400 and 1600, with a range of 200-800 for both Math and EBRW. The range for PSAT scores is slightly lower to account for the fact that it's a somewhat easier test than the SAT. The score you receive on the PSAT indicates the score you would get if you took the SAT instead on that same day. For example, a 500 in Math on the PSAT is a 500 in Math on the SAT. College Board’s College Readiness Benchmark is a 1010 Composite (480 EBRW and 530 Math). Benchmarks look at a range of courses across a range of institutions and determine when a typical student will get a C in those courses. In 2017, the national average PSAT score was a 1015. Based on the benchmark and average, a score of 1020 or above would be considered above average or “good”. But considering the PSAT is primarily practice, any score is a good score, as it allows you to understand what you need to improve for the SAT. When should I start practicing? Another "depends." If you’re within three months of the exam, go ahead and practice. It’s always a good idea to do a trial run before you sit for the one that counts… even if the one that counts is a trial run itself! However, if you’re over three months away, you’re better off preparing by working hard in your classes. You should pick up a lot of the skills you’ll need to be successful there. Don’t be discouraged with your scores, even if they’re below average. Many students haven’t yet learned a lot of the math that shows up on [...]

By |2022-02-04T15:43:06+00:00October 3, 2018|PSAT SP, School Programs, Special|0 Comments

SAT Scores: What Teachers Can Do After Test Day

In Illinois, Michigan, and across the country, students and educators had been preparing for months to get ready for one day: April 10, the SAT school day administration. With so much energy and motivation cresting around test day, educators may be wondering, “What next?” Here are some other questions to consider as the school year winds down. How can we make the most of the SAT score release? Students will no doubt be anxiously awaiting their scores, which are expected to release in mid-May. As educators, consider how you can build context for your students as they anticipate their scores. If students took the PSAT/NMSQT in October, they may be interested to know that expected growth from the 11th grade PSAT to the SAT is 40 points on the composite, or 20 points on each subject score. The College Readiness Benchmarks are 480 in Evidence-based Reading and Writing and 530 in Math, and the on-track scores for the 11th grade PSAT are 460 and 510. Each college and university also reports the SAT score range of their middle 50% of admitted students. Knowing the ranges for schools like University of Illinois – Chicago (1080-1340 for the middle 50%), Michigan State University (1070-1350), Northwestern University (1480-1580), and University of Notre Dame (1410-1550) can help students build their wish lists as they prepare to apply senior year. Consider how you can use this data to announce your school-wide performance. As you analyze results, you may find encouraging statistics: Did you grow the average student’s SAT score by a greater amount than expected gains? Increase the number of students meeting or exceeding the college readiness benchmark? Improve the percent of students earning scores that allow them to access competitive colleges or scholarships? Building your understanding of the SAT scores and growth norms now can help you contextualize your school’s results compellingly when the scores are released to your students and to your community.   What if students are not happy with their SAT scores? While junior spring test dates are popular for students and often tied to accountability metrics for schools, thousands of seniors and rising seniors test each year. The class of 2019, who just tested as juniors, will have the opportunity to retest if desired on August 25 or October 6. Students who are considering a senior retest should also consider their test preparation plan. Multiple tests alone do not increase SAT scores; students should plan to practice and hone their skills over the summer to get ready for test day. Student score reports include a plethora of information that can guide this preparation. For example, students receive subscores in three math domains – Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. These subscores can help students prioritize the skills that they should practice and review before test day. Educators can consider how to use this data to help students build individualized study and preparation plans that give students the best chance of increasing scores on [...]

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