PSAT/NMSQTstands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  The PSAT is a standardized test that provides both sophomores and juniors at SI with formalized practice for the SAT.  ALL students at SI take the PSAT in the Fall of both sophomore and junior year during the school day in October, National Testing Day.

For juniors, completion of the PSAT also suffices as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarships Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs. 

Reasons for Taking the PSAT/NMSQT (as a sophomore and a junior)

Preparation & Experience with the SAT

The PSAT gives students the opportunity for better familiarity with the SAT through formalized testing in a timed setting.  The same types of questions may be found on the SAT with the exception of the Writing section (which is not included on the PSAT).

Score Report & Resources

Score Structure

With more scores, the new PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 provide a clear, early picture of you and your readiness for college. They help you and your teachers pinpoint areas for improvement.

PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 Score Ranges
PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 Score ReportedDetailsScore Range
Total score

Sum of the two section scores.


Section scores (2)

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math.


Test scores (3)

Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.


Cross-test scores (2)

Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science. Based on selected questions in the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Tests.


Subscores (7)

Reading and Writing and Language: Command of Evidence and Words in Context. Writing and Language: Expression of Ideas and Standard English Conventions. Math: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math.


Understanding Scores

Find out how your PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 scores are calculated and what those scores mean.

Calculating Your Score

Because there’s no penalty for guessing, your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly. Raw scores are converted to scores on a scale of 160 to 760 using a process called equating. Equating adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between various versions of the test (such as versions taken on different days).

The College Board uses equating to make sure there’s no advantage in taking the test on a particular day. A score of 400, for instance, on one day’s test means the same thing as a 400 on a test taken on a different day — even though the questions are different.

Making Sense of the Numbers

Score ranges, mean (average) scores, benchmarks, and percentiles can be used to see if you’re on track for college readiness.

For the next few years, norm groups for the score ranges, mean scores, and percentiles described below will be derived from research data, not the prior year’s test-taking populations. A norm group, also called a reference population, is the group whose data your results are compared to.

Score Ranges

Tests can’t measure exactly what you know, and many factors can affect your score. After all, no two days are the same, and if you were to take the PSAT/NMSQT or PSAT 10 three times in a week or once a week for a month, your scores would vary.

That’s why it’s helpful to think of each score as a range that extends from a few points below to a few points above the score earned. Score ranges show how much your score might change with repeated testing, assuming that your skill level remains the same.

Mean (Average) Scores 

Your score report will show you the mean, or average, scores earned by typical U.S. test-takers per grade. Unless your score is much lower than average, you’re probably developing the kinds of reading, writing and language, and math skills you’ll need in college.

College Readiness Benchmarks

You’ll see a benchmark for each section of the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10. Benchmarks are the scores that represent college readiness. In other words, if you score at or above the benchmark, you’re on track to be ready for college when you graduate high school.

If you score below the benchmark, you still have time to work on your skills. Use the detailed feedback in your online score report to see which skills need the most improvement.


A percentile is a number between 0 and 100 that shows how you rank compared to other students. It represents the percentage of students in a particular grade whose scores fall at or below your score.

For example, a 10th-grade student whose Math percentile is 57 scored higher or equal to 57 percent of 10th-graders. You’ll see two percentiles:

The Nationally Representative Sample percentile shows how your score compares to the scores of all U.S. students in a particular grade, including those who don’t typically take the test.

The User Percentile — Nation shows how your score compares to the scores of only some U.S. students in a particular grade, a group limited to students who typically take the test.

National Merit Scholarship Competition - for Juniors Only

Juniors are automatically entered in a scholarship competition sponsored by the NMSC.  Finalists and special scholarships are awarded to high performing participants who meet a corporate sponsor's eligibility criteria.  National Merit recognition is also beneficial for the college admission process as it identifies high scoring students on the PSAT. 

To prepare for the PSAT go to "Test Prep Resources".

St. Ignatius College Preparatory

Courage to Lead; Passion to Serve

2001 37th Avenue San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 731-7500
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