An average PSAT section score in the 50th percentile would be about 460 in each section. To get an above-average score, however, you’d want to get 470 or higher in both EBRW and Math.
Now, let’s consider the other version of the PSAT you can take as a freshman: the PSAT 8/9.
PSAT 8/9 Percentile Chart
The data in the chart below reflects the scores and percentiles of 9th graders who took the PSAT 8/9 in the last three school years. Remember that the PSAT 8/9 score range goes from 240 to 1440, or from 120 to 720 for each section. This information is sourced from the College Board’s most current official report on the PSAT 8/9..
Here’s the percentile chart for 9th graders:
|PSAT 8/9 Score||EBRW Percentile||Math Percentile|
Based on these percentiles, we can take the same approach we used above to figure out what makes a good score for a freshman on the PSAT 8/9.
What’s a Good Score for Freshmen on the PSAT 8/9?
Unlike the data on the PSAT/NMSQT, this data is entirely based on 9th graders, so it should give you a more realistic view of what you’d need to score on the PSAT 8/9 to do better than average.
This chart shows the scores you’d need to achieve to make it into the 50th, 75th, 90th, and 99th percentiles on the PSAT 8/9 for 9th graders:
|PSAT 8/9 Percentile||EBRW Score||Math Score||Composite Score|
Source: Understanding PSAT 8/9 Scores 2020-2021
You can use this data on scores and percentiles to set goals for whichever test you choose to take as a 9th grader. How can you achieve your target scores, though? That all depends on how much you prepare. Read on for a few tips for prepping for the PSAT leading up to freshman year.
By prep, I mean studying, not popped collars.
How to Prep for the PSAT as a Freshman
One of the first steps in getting ready to take the PSAT is defining your target scores. What are you aiming for? What do you hope to score at this point in your education? To figure this out, we recommend taking a timed PSAT practice test. Score your test, and figure out where you’re currently scoring and what areas you can improve in.
For a lot of freshmen, the Math section might be especially challenging with new concepts and problems. To get yourself ready, you could seek out PSAT practice materials and self-teach or get tutored in the new concepts and vocabulary you’ll need to know. By finding your areas of strength and weakness, you can adjust your studying to meet your own individual needs.
Official PSAT practice tests and sample questions are the best representation of what you’ll see on the test. You can also use older practice tests to prep, as well as practice tests for the SAT, as the exams will be very similar. When you score them, write down any mistakes you made and questions you’re unsure about.
Taking the time to thoroughly understand and correct your mistakes is the best way to ensure you answer similar questions correctly the next time. The PSAT is a national standardized test, so even when the specifics change, the question types generally stay the same test after test. By really studying question type and format, you can gain a strong familiarity with the commonly asked questions. You might even reach the point at which you feel your official PSAT is very similar to practice tests you’ve already taken.
The PSAT is challenging for its content, the complex wording of questions, and the strict time limits. By timing yourself as you practice, you’ll improve your ability to answer questions quickly and efficiently. You can try out strategies such as speed reading and skimming for key content, as well as learning how to identify and fix grammar rules fast.
While there might be some content you just haven’t studied in school yet, all this studying will at least help your test-taking skills. You’ll get better at working quickly under time limits, applying time-saving strategies such as the process of elimination, and handling the pressure of taking College Board exams.
Even if you decide not to take the PSAT as a freshman, it’s a great idea to start early with a PSAT practice test so you can gauge your level, map out your study plan, and familiarize yourself with the test. By the time you reach junior year, you’ll be prepared to take the PSAT/NMSQT when it counts for National Merit and ultimately the SAT.
Deciding between the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT/NMSQT? Read all about what’s on the PSAT 8/9 and whether you should take it at this point in high school.
In sophomore year, you might also consider taking the PSAT 10. This guide explains what this College Board exam is all about, while this article discusses whether you should take the PSAT 10 or the PSAT/NMSQT.
Starting to think about SAT prep? Read all about if you should start prepping for the SAT as a freshman and learn what a good freshman SAT score would be.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We’ve written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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