What Do The PSAT Results Mean?

(Ivy Education) By Nicole Oringer —

Fall PSAT results have become available online for high school students and parents. This year, we anticipate that junior students’ percentile rankings will be lower than last year’s.


This year, the College Board can compare student performance with actual performance from the last year.  In 2015, the College Board used a convoluted formula for determining the “nationally representative” percentile ranking, one we could not give much credence to since it seemed to artificially inflate such percentiles.  Because this “new PSAT” has been around for a year now, there is more actual data to use, and we predict that the College Board will take advantage of this data, especially for the “user group” percentile ranking.

So what do these PSAT results mean?

We suggest looking at the PSAT scores as a starting point, especially for students who are sophomores.

We generally do not recommend that students begin test prep until after completing sophomore year, for a few reasons.  If you haven’t taken Algebra II yet, then you haven’t covered much of the math on the test, and your score may reflect that. And even for students who are in Algebra II, the PSAT may include items from trigonometry or pre-calculus, and so you may be unfamiliar with those.

For juniors, the PSAT/NMSQT is a chance to get in the running for the National Merit Scholarships, although in New Jersey the competition is quite rough as our state traditionally requires one of the nation’s highest index scores (see the National Merit organization’s website for more details).

Ivy Education offers free 20-minute PSAT evaluations. Parents and students can meet with one of our test prep experts, by appointment only, to help create a plan that best suits the child.  Learn what the scores may indicate, which test (ACT or SAT) may be more appropriate for your child, and when s/he should take that test.

By explaining how to interpret scores to students and parents, we hope to reduce the stress of standardized testing in the college admissions process. We offer individualized one-on-one tutoring for the SAT and ACT, as well as small group classes.  Ivy Educational Services always put the student first and try to reduce anxiety throughout the whole college admissions process.