Ahead of the digital SAT launch in 2024, the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, has gone digital in the United States with the October 2023 test, presenting students with a completely new format and scoring structure from prior versions and featuring a shortened testing time with fewer questions.
2023 PSAT Scores Released in November
Because schools could administer the digital PSAT during a large window of dates in October, College Board set up two score release dates for 2023, depending on when the school administered the test. 2023 PSAT scores will be released on either November 6 for tests administered between October 1-14, or November 16 for tests administered between October 15-31.
Students can check for their scores on their College Board account. College Board will also text a link to your scores on the BigFuture mobile app if you provided a mobile number on test day. School counselors also have score reports if these other options are not available.
2023 PSAT Technical Difficulties Delayed or Canceled Many Tests
The rollout of the new PSAT digital test platform on the Bluebook app and the new test procedures schools had to implement lead to many technical and operational problems, as reported in the news and by College Board. Testing on October 11 ended up being an especially bad day when demand on College Board’s test platform overwhelmed its capacity. We have also received numerous anecdotal reports from our students about tests at local MCPS high schools being canceled or rescheduled during the month. Many students also reported they opted not to test this year since they would have to pay a fee for the test.
These types of problems can be expected anytime an existing, well-known system is replaced with something quite different, and it would not be a surprise to see similar problems with the initial digital SAT rollout next year.
How Do PSAT Scores Compare to SAT Scores?
The SAT has a score range of 200-800 on the Reading/Writing and the Math section, for a combined score range of 400-1600. Because the PSAT tests a slightly lower grade-level equivalent, the range on the PSAT is 160-760 per section or 320-1520 total. The PSAT score is a benchmark on where a student might score on the SAT, but is not a direct extrapolation, so a 1520 does not equal a 1600 on the SAT, instead it would indicate scoring in a range around 1520 on the SAT. Testers also should keep in mind that the SAT will include more difficult question types not seen on the PSAT, which may also affect their SAT score, and that the percentiles in the PSAT report are not equivalent to the percentiles the student will rank on the SAT (in comparison to the national test pool).
What Should You Do with Your PSAT Score?
Because the 2023 PSAT is the first test instance for the digital platform and College Board is still finetuning their scoring correlations, students should consider their PSAT score a starting point for determining the best college admissions test for them to take to support their upcoming college applications. Trying a practice full-length SAT and a practice ACT will help a student to make a well-informed decision on whether to utilize and prepare for either test or if going test-optional might be the best choice.
One other potential benefit of the PSAT for very high scorers is the National Merit Scholarship Program, which automatically enters students with a high enough qualifying score for consideration.
College Board also offers various platforms to connect students with scholarship opportunities and potential colleges based on the student’s PSAT, and later SAT, scores. Students should be aware of and comfortable with the data they are sharing with schools and other organizations when using these extra tools offered by the company.
It’s also important to understand that your PSAT score has no effect on your college application process and schools will never see it, so if you did not score where you had hoped, you do not need to worry about long-term effects on your applications.
How Do You Become a National Merit Scholar?
Utilizing the PSAT scores of everyone who tests in October 2023, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will winnow down the testers into a pool of 15,000 finalists, drawn from a pool of the top scorers in each state, and in September 2024, NMSC will invite those semifinalists to complete the scholarship program’s application. If selected a finalist, students will be considered for 7,000 scholarships from a variety of sources and are awarded the designation of National Merit Finalist.
Given the high score needed to be considered for the program, we do not generally recommend students prep for the PSAT unless they are already testing in the top 2-3% of testers. For Maryland in 2022, only 306 students scored high enough to become a semifinalist, and the Selection Index score needed, 221, was one of the highest of any state, with just three states having a higher selection score, meaning that Maryland students have to score higher just to be considered versus peers in another state, such as Virginia where the cutoff score was 219.
NMSC determines this index cutoff score by allocating the semifinalist spots to each state based on the state’s percentage of the most recent U.S. high school graduating class. They then go down the list of top scorers in each state till they reach that number of state-semifinalists, and that last semifinalist’s score determines the cutoff score for the state. So the smaller and more academically competitive the state, the higher the state’s index number.
To calculate a student’s Selection Index Score, multiply the Reading/Writing score by 2, add the Math score, and then divide that total by 10. The score will be in a range between 48-228.
When Will the SAT Be Digital?
One of the big reasons the College Board offers the PSAT is to provide practice and experience with the format so students will then take the SAT for the college admissions test, instead of the ACT or going test optional. This is why the PSAT went digital in 2023 ahead of the rollout of the digital SAT in March 2024. Students wishing to take a paper-based SAT only have the December 2, 2023 test left to utilize this well-known format. Registration for the 2024 digital SAT dates of March 9, May 4, and June 1 is now open.
Our #1 Tip: Try a Digital SAT Practice Test
Because the digital PSAT is a new test, we have no data to show how it correlates to the digital SAT coming in March, and we expect that the correlation between the two will noticeably improve in future years as College Board fine tunes their new testing platform and methodology, which utilizes adaptive testing.
Because the digital SAT has been offered internationally for a year now, it is possible to mirror the test with a practice test. Once a student has results from a full digital SAT practice test, they can be compared with the PSAT results to determine an accurate baseline and score goal for the student’s prep.
With results from a PSAT, practice SAT, and if possible, a practice ACT, a student can feel confident that they know which test will be the best option for their applications.
Interested in trying a digital SAT? Register for our upcoming dates.