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When you check your Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) score you might ask: “What does this score mean? Did I get a good score?” Of course it tells you how you did on the test, but it could also connect you to scholarship opportunities, and it’s a way to see what subjects you’re doing well in and where you might need to improve to be ready for college and the SAT. No matter how you score, the PSAT/NMSQT is a great planning tool as you prepare for the SAT and college coursework.

Your PSAT/NMSQT score ranges from 320 to 1520 points and is the sum of your Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing scores. The PSAT/NMSQT tests the same skills as the SAT, but in a way that makes sense for your grade level. Since the tests share a common scale, the highest score you can get on the PSAT/NMSQT is 1520 compared to a 1600 for the SAT.

Learn more about the benefits of a PSAT/NMSQT score.

Next Steps: Preparing for the SAT and College

Once scores are released, follow these steps for success on the SAT and beyond:

  1. Create a College Board account and sign up for the SAT.

Stay on top of the dates and deadlines and find test centers in your area. Most students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year and again in the fall of their senior year. Find out how to register for the SAT. The SAT is administered multiple times a year, and you should take it more than once to get your best score.

  1. Create an account on Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy®, link it to your College Board account, and share your PSAT/NMSQT scores.

 A great way to practice and improve before taking the SAT is to use Official SAT Practice. After you’ve linked your College Board and Khan Academy accounts and shared your PSAT/NMSQT scores, this free tool will create a personalized practice plan focused on the areas where you could do better. For example, if you did well on the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section but need improvement on the Math section, Official SAT Practice will create lesson plans that focus on math.

The numbers say it all: 20 hours of practice on Khan Academy is associated with an average 115-point score increase from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT—nearly double the average gain of those who didn’t use Khan Academy. The best part? It’s free, and even has full SAT practice tests so you can see what test day will be like.   

  1. Explore college options.

Do you have a dream school in mind or need to do more research on colleges? When preparing for the SAT, it’s a good idea to have a score goal in mind, based on the colleges on your college list. Explore BigFuture™ and over 3,800 college options so you can have a score goal in mind and something to work toward when studying for the SAT. BigFuture also has a lot of great information on finding colleges, searching for scholarships, and exploring majors and careers.

Pat Yourself on the Back—You Did Great!

If you did well on the PSAT/NMSQT, congrats! If you’re disappointed with your score or thought you would do better, practice, practice, practice, with help from Khan Academy, to do better on the SAT. But even if you’re not OK with your score, it’s still a great benchmark to help you plan for your future.

So—great job! Now you’ve got a head start on the SAT, and you can use your PSAT/NMSQT scores to access free, personalized SAT practice. And don’t forget to check out AP Potential™, Roadmap to Careers, and the other free tools available to help you get ready for college and after.