The PSAT Scoring Scale

A PSAT score report contains a separate score for each of the three section types (Critical Reading, Math, and Writing Skills) on a scale from 20 to 80. The score report also contains the test-taker’s Selection Index, which is the sum of the scaled scores for each of the three section types. The selection index is scored on a scale of 60 to 240, and is used to determine eligibility for National Merit Scholarship awards.

The first step in calculating these scores is to determine the individual raw scores for each section type . A correct answer on a multiple-choice question adds 1 point to the raw score, while an incorrect answer choice subtracts .25 points. A correct answer on a Grid-In math question also adds 1 point to the raw score, but there is no penalty for incorrect answers on these questions. Questions left unanswered do not affect a student’s raw score.

Next, the raw score for each section type is converted to a scaled score between 20 and 80 through a process called equating. This process corrects for minor variations in the difficulty of different test administrations so that the same level of ability should lead to the same scaled score on any test. The scaled score that corresponds to a particular raw score varies slightly from test to test:

Percentile rankings show how a test-taker’s scaled score compares to the scores of test-takers nationwide. The chart below shows the percentile rankings for individual section types.

Scores and Percentile Rankings for Students who took the PSAT in 2010
Juniors Sophomores
Percentile Percentile
Score Critical
Reading
Math Writing
Skills
Score Critical
Reading
Math Writing
Skills
80 99+ 99+ 99+ 80 99+ 99+ 99+
79 99+ 99+ 99+ 79 99+ 99+ 99+
78 99+ 99+ 99+ 78 99+ 99+ 99+
77 99 99 99+ 77 99+ 99+ 99+
76 99 99 99 76 99+ 99+ 99+
75 99 99 99 75 99+ 99+ 99+
74 99 98 99 74 99+ 99 99+
73 98 98 99 73 99 99 99+
72 98 97 97 72 99 99 99+
71 97 97 98 71 99 99 99+
70 97 96 98 70 99 99 99+
69 96 95 97 69 99 98 99
68 96 95 97 68 99 98 99
67 95 94 96 67 98 98 99
66 94 92 95 66 97 97 99
65 94 90 95 65 97 96 99
64 92 90 93 64 97 96 98
63 90 88 93 63 96 95 98
62 89 85 91 62 95 94 97
61 87 82 97 61 94 92 96
60 85 82 88 60 93 92 95
59 83 79 88 59 91 90 95
58 80 76 86 58 90 88 94
57 78 73 83 57 89 86 92
56 76 72 82 56 87 86 92
55 73 69 80 55 85 83 90
54 70 66 79 54 83 80 89
53 67 62 75 53 80 78 87
52 65 61 72 52 79 77 85
51 58 58 68 51 73 74 82
50 58 54 68 50 73 71 82
49 55 51 63 49 70 68 78
48 49 47 58 48 65 65 74
47 45 43 54 47 62 61 71
46 42 40 51 46 58 58 67
45 38 40 50 45 55 58 67
44 35 36 44 44 51 54 62
43 32 33 40 43 48 51 58
42 29 30 36 42 45 47 54
41 26 27 33 41 41 44 49
40 23 24 29 40 36 40 45
39 20 21 27 39 32 36 44
38 18 18 21 38 30 32 35
37 15 16 21 37 26 28 35
36 13 13 18 36 23 24 30
35 13 11 15 35 23 21 26
34 10 11 11 34 19 21 20
33 8 9 77 33 15 17 20
32 7 7 8 32 14 13 16
31 6 7 6 31 11 13 12
30 6 5 6 30 11 9 12
29 4 3 4 29 8 7 9
28 4 3 4 28 8 7 8
27 3 2 2 27 5 5 5
26 3 2 2 26 5 5 5
25 2 1 2 25 3 3 5
24 1 1 2 24 3 3 5
23 1 1 1 23 3 3 3
22 1 1 1 22 2 1 3
21 1 1 1 21 2 1 1
20 1 1 1 20 1 1 1

The chart below shows the percentile rankings for Selection Index scores. Since National Merit Scholarship awards are based partially on geography, the qualifying Selection Index will vary from state to state. Typically, a Selection Index between 204 and 223 is needed to qualify as a National Merit Semifinalist. Note that only high school juniors are eligible to compete for these awards.

Scores and Percentile Rankings for Students who took the PSAT in 2010
Selection
Index
Percentile Selection
Index
Percentile Selection
Index
Percentile
222-240 99+ 174 84 126 31
221 99 173 83 125 30
220 99 172 82 124 29
219 99 171 82 123 28
218 99 170 81 122 27
217 99 169 80 121 25
216 99 168 79 120 24
215 99 167 78 119 23
214 99 166 77 118 22
213 99 165 76 117 21
212 99 164 75 116 21
211 99 163 74 115 20
210 98 162 73 114 19
209 98 161 72 113 18
208 98 160 71 112 17
207 98 159 70 111 16
206 98 158 69 110 15
205 98 157 68 109 15
204 97 156 67 108 14
203 97 155 66 107 13
202 97 154 65 106 12
201 97 153 64 105 12
200 96 152 63 104 11
199 96 151 61 103 10
198 96 150 60 102 10
197 96 149 59 101 9
196 95 148 58 100 9
195 95 147 57 99 8
194 95 146 55 98 8
193 94 145 54 97 7
192 94 144 53 96 7
191 94 143 52 95 6
190 93 142 50 94 6
189 93 141 49 93 5
188 92 140 48 92 5
187 92 139 47 91 5
186 91 138 45 90 4
185 91 137 44 89 4
184 90 136 43 88 4
183 90 135 42 87 3
182 89 134 40 86 3
181 89 133 39 85 3
180 88 132 38 84 2
179 87 131 37 83 2
178 87 130 36 82 2
177 86 129 34 81 2
176 85 128 33 80 1
175 85 127 32 60-79 1