What is a Good PSAT Score?

What is a good PSAT score and how do you achieve a good score?

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Much more than just a (new and improved test with new PSAT scores) practice test, the PSAT is also a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarships–an academic competition. Your score on the PSAT can act as an indicator as to what kind of score you’ll receive on the SAT or ACT, as well as potentially unlock some other rewards.

What is a Good PSAT Score?

But what is a good PSAT score? Well, a good score is relative. It depends on the person taking it, really, where they want to go, what they want to do, which colleges they would prefer to get into, and so on. You can look at a couple different factors to determine if your score is “good” for you–percentiles, National Merit qualifications, and averages.

PSAT Averages

Let’s talk averages. Nationally, the average score for the Math and Reading / Writing sections are about 490, for a total score of 980. This would put you squarely in the 50th percentile of scoring. But those averages can change depending on the college you’re hoping to apply to.

For example, the average PSAT score by Harvard admitted students was between 1420 and 1520 (or 210-238 on the old scale). That’s a high goal to aim for, to be sure.

The National Merit Scholarship Program

Another good tool to measure how “good” your score is, is by looking at the National Merit scholarship qualifying scores. The score cut-off changes state by state–check out this chart to see how you stack up for your home state (based on the old score scale)–if you score below the cut-off, you could get commended, meaning you’re out of the running. There is one commended score for the entire country, and schools will be notified about semifinalists and commended students in August.


The PSAT is a little different than the SAT or ACT, in that you can only take it once a year. Typically, students take the PSAT in 10th and/or 11th grade. So studying hard and doing well is imperative since there are fewer opportunities to improve. It’s also important to note that only your 11th-grade scores count towards the National Merit competition, so make it count!

Taking PSAT Practice is a good idea

So, is your PSAT score good? Well, what was your personal goal? Did you want to hit the average score of your preferred school? Are you aiming to qualify for the National Merit cut off? Did you improve your score from the last time you took the PSAT? Did you score within a percentile you found impressive?

The term good is relative. What is good for one student might be great for another–it all depends.

Check out how your ACT/SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

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