Dear Juniors and Parents of Juniors:
The PSAT results were posted this week, and students should be able to access them online. Additionally, I will be meeting with juniors individually to hand out hard copies of the test scores as well as the actual test booklets after the first of the year (and to begin our “official” college planning process). Meanwhile, here is information for interpretation of the scores:
The test has been scored in three different areas—Evidence Based Reading, Writing and Language and Math. In each of these areas, the highest score is 76(0), and the lowest is 16(0).
The score report contains just about everything students would want to know, including:
- How their scores compare to those of other students who took the test;
- The likely SAT score if taken this year;
- What kinds of questions (easy, medium, hard) a student got right and wrong;
- Suggestions on how to improve skills and thereby improve standardized test scores
- A Web address where you can get the detailed answer to every question on the test, as well as the Access code to find personalized information.
Students can use the test booklet or the information available through the Access Code to compare answers and learn how to improve. This is a very important step to take if students want to make the most of their scores—to see where mistakes were, and how to avoid them next time.
The PSAT, taken in the fall of the junior year, is the practice for the SAT, geared for the spring testing. For additional practice, College Board has partnered with the Khan Academy which offers free tutoring for the PSAT and SAT tests, so you might want to check them out before taking the SAT. http://www.khanacademy.org/college-admissions/making-high-school-count/standardized-tests/a/preparing-yourself-for-success-on-the-tests
For students who score very well it will also be the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program. The cutoffs are extremely high and vary from state to state—the predicted estimate for the Class of 2019 in Michigan is 219 (Verbal x 2 plus Math), or a range from 217-221. Students will be notified in the spring if they will qualify for recognition.
With your PSAT scores you might be tempted to begin to evaluate your “chances” for “getting into” selective colleges and earning scholarships. Remember, it is only one test. In most cases, colleges never see the PSAT score, and besides, it is just a tiny piece of the entire picture. For the most part, students will be evaluated on many other criteria, primarily the high school they attend, the courses they take and the grades they earn. They also take into account student interests, activities and their own personal stories—all things within the student’s control.
I’m looking forward to meeting with the juniors and their families as we begin the next phase of your journey to the future. This should be an exciting time in your lives, but I know well that often students worry about college decisions—no doubt you have been hearing from seniors about how more colleges than ever are “deferring” admission because of the skyrocketing number of early applicants. Sometimes, even for just a short time, students see their worth and value in terms of what college “accepts” them, I want to reach out and let them know: It’s just school! The important thing is for each student to grow and become the best person they can be, and the college admission process will work out.
Meanwhile, enjoy your time with your friends and family over the break and be safe. “See you next year!”
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling