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PSAT Scoring : How Does It Work?

Jan 5, 2023

Are you planning to take the PSAT? Well! If yes, you need to comprehend everything about PSAT scoring. How are PSAT scores determined? And how can having this knowledge help you achieve the desired score on exam day? 

Here in this article, we’ll discuss the PSAT scoring system and demonstrate how to determine your PSAT scores using the official PSAT scoring calculator and tables!


PSAT Scoring System

PSAT scoring ranges from 320 to 1520, with each unit carrying 10 points. This scale’s minimum and maximum scores are 320 and 1520, respectively. This scale slightly differs from the SAT scoring range of 400–1600.

Like the SAT, your overall PSAT score is the sum of your Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) scores. (The Reading, Writing, and Language parts make up the EBRW score.) Each section of the PSAT, EBRW, and Math has a scoring range of 160-760 and counts for 50% of your overall score. Therefore, a combined PSAT score of 1100 would equal 600 in Math and 500 in EBRW.


After all, the PSAT doesn’t have 1,520 questions! Why, then, does the PSAT use a scale of 1520? It is because all of these scores are technically scaled scores, created through a unique equating technique from raw scores (directly related to the total number of questions you properly answered). The College Board uses this method to adjust for differences in PSAT difficulty, effectively ensuring that a scaled PSAT result will always reflect the same skill level regardless of when you attempt the test.

You’ll receive three raw scores after finishing the PSAT: one for each section, Math, Reading, and Writing and Language. For instance, your overall raw Math score would be 40 if you have properly answered 40 problems. Similarly, if you were to respond to 26 Writing questions successfully, your total raw Writing score would be 26. Under PSAT scoring, incomplete or wrong answers won’t lose you any points. Your final (scaled) EBRW and Math scores are calculated using these raw scores.


Here’s the issue, each PSAT section has a different equating formula. Furthermore, we will never be able to accurately forecast how a raw score on a forthcoming PSAT will translate into a scaled score, as only the College Board is informed of these formulae. However, we may make an educated guess as to how raw results might translate into scaled scores using the PSAT scoring chart from authorized PSAT practice exams. These tables are particularly useful since they demonstrate how PSAT scores normally translate into scaled scores, even if they vary for each practice exam.

Calculation of PSAT Math Score

There are two subsections in Math: a No Calculator segment with 17 questions, where you are not allowed to use a calculator, and a Calculator segment with 31 questions, where you are allowed to (but not required to) use a calculator.


Your total Math raw score can be 48-points (total of all questions in the Math section: 17 + 31 = 48). Following are the steps for using your raw score to calculate your Math section score:

  1. Determine the raw math scores you received for each subsection. Using the test’s answer key, start by totaling up all of your correct responses on the No Calculator and Calculator subsections.
  2. Add your raw scores together to obtain a cumulative raw Math score out of 48. For instance, your total raw Math PSAT score would be 32 if you got 10 questions correct on the No Calculator subsection and 22 questions right on the Calculator subsection.
  3. Use the PSAT scoring chart or table to determine your Math section score. You should have access to a conversion table on your test to determine your math section score. 

You can also use the PSAT conversion tables available on the College Board to predict how your raw Math score will translate into a scaled score if you aren’t using the official practice test and don’t have access to the PSAT 10 scoring chart for your test. Let’s say, for example, that your raw Math score is 40 and the PSAT scoring 2021 practice tests #1 and #2 show that a score of 40 on Math translates into either a score of 670 or 720. It indicates that your Math score is probably in the upper 600s or low 700s.


Calculation of EBRW Score

EBRW is a combined score of two subsections: Reading and Writing, initially provided to you as two independent scores. Your Writing raw score is calculated out of 44, while your Reading raw score is calculated out of 47. These raw PSAT scores are then translated into test scores to calculate your overall EBRW section score.

Determining your EBRW score entails a few more steps than finding your Math score, which is a rather simple task. Here’s how to figure it out:

  1. Figure out your raw Writing and Reading scores. Use the answer key from your practice test to add all the appropriate responses you received for Reading and Writing. Make sure to tally up each section separately since you cannot aggregate these scores eventually. 
  2. Check your Reading and Writing PSAT scores. The Reading and Writing scores will first be converted into individual exam scores on a scale of 8-38, unlike the Math raw score, which instantly translates into a scaled section score out of 760. For instance, according to the PSAT scoring 2021 practice test, your Reading and Writing exam scores would translate into 31 and 33, respectively, if your raw scores were 35 for Reading and 38 for Writing.
  3. Add your Writing and Reading PSAT scores to obtain your overall EBRW test scores. In the above instance, the Reading and Writing test scores were 31 and 33, respectively, making the overall EBRW test score 64.
  4. To determine your section score, multiply your EBRW PSAT test score by 10. Finally, scale your test score into an EBRW section score of 760. As a result, your exam score of 64 would translate into an overall EBRW score of 640!

Once you have calculated your scaled scores for EBRW and Math, combine the PSAT scores (your score would be out of 1520). If you’d want to get a sense of where you rank with other participants, you can evaluate your performance to the most recent PSAT percentiles.

PSAT Subscores and Cross-Test Scores

In parallel to your PSAT scores for the Math and EBRW sections, you will receive individual subscores and cross-test scores (much like you would on the SAT). These additional scores divide the three sections into more manageable categories to illustrate your abilities and opportunities for improvement.


Let’s understand these subscores and how to calculate them effectively.

PSAT Subscores

There are a total of seven subscores in PSAT scoring. These are as follows:


  • Words in Context
  • Command of Evidence
  • Standard English Conventions
  • Expression of Ideas

For Math

A scale of 1 to 15 is used to score each subscore. Your performance in particular skill areas, such as language and data analysis, is reflected in these subscores.

You can utilize the subscore answer key from your practice test to get your subscores.

Using the PSAT scoring system for subscores on the test, you can translate these PSAT raw scores into a scaled subscore after adding all your right answers for each subscore.

These subscores can help you identify your capabilities and weaknesses, but they ultimately don’t mean anything. Subscores currently have no impact on your PSAT section scores, much less on your overall PSAT score. Additionally, they are not utilized to choose applicants for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

PSAT Cross-Test Scores

The cross-test scores demonstrate how well you did in the history/social studies and science sections. Cross-test scores, in contrast to the subscores mentioned above, are applied to all sections and employ a scoring range of 8–38.

There are two different cross-test scores:

  • Analysis in Science
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies

To determine your cross-test scores, you can use the scoring guide to determine which Math and EBRW questions fall into these different classifications and the number of questions you correctly answered.

Once you have determined your raw scores, you can use the cross-test scoring chart to obtain your scaled cross-test scores.

Ranking on the National Merit Selection Index

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) converts your PSAT scoring 2021 into a Selection Index score. Your Reading, Writing, and Math exam results (those on scales of 8-38) multiplied by two will give you your Selection Index score, which uses a score range of 48-228. Therefore, if you received 34, 30, and 27 on your three tests, your overall Selection Index score would be:

⇒ 34+30+27=91

⇒ 91*2=182

The NMSC uses your Selection Index results To evaluate your candidacy for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students who achieve incredibly high PSAT scores are eligible for a scholarship and a highly coveted distinction through this program. Every year, the top 1 percent of PSAT 11th class scorers, or over 16,000 students, advance to the semifinals.

From this, 15,000 students will advance to the final round. And from those, 8,000 will receive scholarships of $2,500 each!

The minimum Selection Index score required to advance to the semifinals varies by state but often falls between 209 and 222. 


By understanding the pluses and minuses of the PSAT scoring system, you can help yourself to calculate how many questions you can manage to leave out on test day and help yourself qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. It can also give you a point of reference while preparing for the SAT and assist you in identifying the abilities and subject areas you need to focus on!

PSAT Scoring


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