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by Jessica Brondo of The Edge | March 10, 2009

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The holidays are now upon us and I'm sure you have a lot on your plate between holiday parties, New Year's plans, shopping and cookie-making. With all that going on, you might have received something in the mail this week that is probably a bit more daunting than a Christmas card: PSAT scores from the College Board!

It seems like ages since you took the PSAT in October, and you might not have been thinking about the test at all since then. So it's only natural that it's a little overwhelming to figure out exactly what the scores mean.

Significance of the score

The PSAT, while formatted similar to the SAT, is merely a practice for the actual SAT. Your PSAT scores will never be released to colleges, so if you totally bombed the test, don't worry, no one will ever know! However, your PSAT scores are a great indication of your natural ability on the test. They will show you the areas in which you have an innate talent and where your biggest weaknesses are. If you happen to have done exceptionally well on the test, you could qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. The qualifying scores change each year based on the national performance on the exam, but they are usually well over 200 combined. Your high school will inform you whether you qualify for this.

Interpreting your score

The PSAT is divided into three sections (like the SAT): Reading, Math and Writing. Each of these sections is scored out of a possible 80 for a combined total of a 240 on the PSAT. You can generally convert your PSAT score to an SAT score by adding a "0" to the end of your PSAT score. For example, if you got a 61 on the Math section of the PSAT, that is about equivalent to a 610 on the SAT Math section. The national average for each section on the PSAT is around a 50, so you can use that as a rough guide to gauge how well you did compared to other students who took the test.

What to do now

Now that you have your scores, it's important to determine whether you'll need to do any additional preparation for the SAT. Look at your PSAT score as if it were the real thing. How did you do? If you're completely satisfied with your score, then you really won't have much to do in the way of prepping for the SAT because your score probably won't differ very much. Maybe just take a couple of timed practice tests. However, if your scores aren't where you want them to be for the SAT, then now is a great time to start preparing for the upcoming exams in March, May and June.

The Edge offers complimentary sessions with an expert instructor to review your PSAT results and customize a preparation program. Call (877) 499-EDGE or visit The Edge website at www.edgeincollegeprep.com to schedule a session.

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Filed Under: Education

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