Preparing for College

Interpreting PSAT Scores for Frosh

Question: My daughter is a freshman in high school and recently took the PSAT. Total score: 1100. Since then, she has been receiving mailings from colleges. What does an 1100 score for a freshman mean?

I'm not clear on your daughter's score. If she recently took the PSAT, she should have received THREE scores (Math, Critical Reading, and Writing). Each of these scores should have been in double digits--between 20 and 80 (e.g., 46 or 58 or 62, etc.) with the highest possible total at 240 for all three sub-sections.


I know it's common to add a zero to the end of PSAT scores to see how they correspond to SAT scores (which run between 200 and 800) but I really need to see all THREE of your daughter's individual scores before I comment.

All students who register for the PSAT and indicate on the registration form that they would like to take part in "Student Search" (and most do) will then receive mailings from various colleges. Sometimes these mailing are based on PSAT scores. The colleges don't see the actual scores, but they may tell Student Search to give them lists of names of those students with scores above--or even below--a certain cut-off. Often, too, the mailings are the results of OTHER information on the registration profile (e.g., choice of major, extracurricular interests, racial or ethnic background, home state, etc.)

Anyway, I can say more about your daughter's scores if you wish to send me the breakdown for the three sub-sections. Now that the new SAT has debuted, too, all of us old folks--albeit stuck in our ways--will have to start getting used to the new maximums ... 240, not 160, for the PSAT and 2400 (!) for the SAT.