SAT Suite

2018 PSAT/NMSQT Scores FAQ

PSAT/NMSQT score release day is an exciting time for students – it’s an important moment that kickstarts the college planning process. We realize the significance of this day and the anxiety that you may feel as you review your scores and think about your future.  We want to make sure you understand that different October 2018 PSAT/NMSQT tests were given across the country and how that relates to your scores.

Different PSAT/NMSQT tests were given to students on October 10th, 13th and 24th. Whichever day you took the PSAT/NMSQT, you can trust the scores you receive thanks to a statistical process called equating. Equating considers how many questions you got correct (a raw score) and the difficulty of those questions in order to produce what’s called a scaled score.  Because of varying levels of difficulty on the tests given over these three days, the same raw score on different tests did not produce the same scaled score.  Equating will sometimes create score gaps along the score scale.  In the math section of one of the tests from October 24th, we saw gaps at the high end of the score scale.  These types of gaps occur regularly on many standardized tests.

We want to reassure you that your score is fair and accurate.  Test scores are equivalent and valid, regardless of when you tested, which test you took or the level of difficulty of the test.

Here is some more information to help you better interpret you score:

Q: Was this test easier than other administrations?

While we plan for consistency across administrations, on occasion there are some tests that can be easier or more difficult than usual. That is why we use a statistical process called equating. The equating process ensures fairness for all students.

Q: What is equating?

Students take different tests during different administrations throughout the school year. It shouldn’t matter which test you took or when you took it. Equating makes sure that a score for a test taken on one date is equivalent to a score from another date. So, for example, a single incorrect answer on one test could equal two or three incorrect answers on a more difficult test.

Equating is used for every SAT administration and is standard practice for assessments like the SAT.

Q: Can I get my test rescored?

The June scores we reported are accurate – the result would be the same even if we rescored it. Rescoring results in a change of score in those rare instances where a question was answered correctly but was marked as being incorrect.

Q: If I got more questions right on the June SAT than previous tests, why did I receive a lower score?

Questions on tests administered on different dates are unique. Because of the difference between tests, you can’t directly compare the number of questions answered correctly. The equating process adjusts for the variation in difficulty between them.

Q: What will the College Board tell colleges about the June SAT scores?

Colleges understand the June SAT scores are accurate. They are familiar with the equating process and know that it is necessary to ensure accurate, fair and comparable scores across all test takers.

Q: Why did the College Board remove four questions from the scoring?

On occasion, test items are removed from the scoring process. When items are removed from scoring they do not impact students’ scores. In our test design, we build in a certain level of redundancy to provide reliable results even if an item needs to be removed for any reason. When we remove a question, it’s done to ensure the test is fair.

Q: Did removing questions affect my score?

Your June SAT scores were not affected by the questions removed.

Q: How is equating related to the removal of questions?

Equating and removing questions are both done to ensure the test is fair. However, it’s important not to conflate them. They are two different and separate processes that take place as tests are scored.

Q: Is the SAT scored on a “curve”?

No, the SAT is not scored on a curve. Through equating, adjustments are made so that when a test is easier more questions need to be answered correctly. The reverse is also true. When a test is more difficult fewer questions need to be answered correctly to achieve the same reported score.

For more information on how the SAT is scored, visit How the SAT is Scored