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How to Calculate PSAT Score: 3-Step Score Calculator

Posted by Hannah Muniz | May 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

PSAT Info and Strategies

 

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If you’re struggling to calculate your PSAT score, then it sounds like you’re in need of a handy PSAT score calculator! In this guide, we offer you step-by-step instructions on how to calculate PSAT scores. To begin, we'll look at how the PSAT is scored and what “equating” means. We'll then go over how to calculate various PSAT scores before finishing with an explanation on how a PSAT score calculator can help you get the PSAT score you want.

 

How Is the PSAT Scored?

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320-1520 in 10-point increments. Your total PSAT score is the sum of your Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) section scores. (EBRW is a combination of your Reading and Writing and Language scores). These two sections are each scored on a scale of 160-760, which is equivalent to half the total score range.

But there aren't 1,520 questions on the PSAT, so where do these numbers come from? In reality, your Math and EBRW scores start out as raw scores. A raw score is simply the number of questions you answered correctly. So if I were to get 40 Reading questions right, my raw Reading score would be 40. (Note that the PSAT uses rights-only scoring, so you'll never lose any points for incorrect answers.)

Next, your raw scores for Math, Reading, and Writing and Language (we'll refer to this section as "Writing" from now on) are converted into final scaled scores using a special equating process. The College Board (the creators of the PSAT) uses equating to account for slight differences in difficulty among tests, making it so that a scaled PSAT score always indicates the same level of ability, regardless of test.

Here’s how the College Board describes the equating process used for the PSAT:

“This conversion process adjusts for slight differences in difficulty among versions of the test and provides a score that is equated, or consistent, across forms. This process ensures that no student receives an advantage or disadvantage from taking a particular form of the test on a particular day;* a score of 400 on one test form is equivalent to a score of 400 on another test form.”

*Emphasis mine.

Ultimately, what this means is that raw scores will not always convert into the same scaled scores on different PSATs. Here's an example to illustrate this concept: on this practice PSAT, you can see that a 23 raw Math score converts into 540, but on this practice PSAT, 23 converts into 510 instead.

So are raw scores and scaled scores the only scores you'll get on the PSAT? Not at all! In addition, you’ll receive subscores and cross-test scores (the same as those on the SAT) as well as a National Merit Selection Index score. Subscores measure specific skills in each section on a scale of 1-15, while cross-test scores measure your understanding of history/social studies and science questions on a scale of 8-38.

The Selection Index is perhaps one of the most unique scores you'll get; it has a score range of 48-228 and is used to determine your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program. To qualify for the program, you must earn a Selection Index score at or above your state’s cutoff score.

Now, let's calculate PSAT score areas together!

 

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Are raw PSAT scores as tasty as raw cookie dough?

 

How to Calculate PSAT Score: Raw & Scaled

Here, we'll show you how to calculate your raw and scaled (section) PSAT scores. If you'd like to calculate your own scores as you read along, make sure you have access to the answer key for whichever official PSAT practice test you took. This will act as your PSAT score calculator.

Note that all of the example charts and conversions below are based on the scoring guide to PSAT Practice Test #1.

 

Step 1: Determine Raw Scores

Raw scores are a relatively easy-to-calculate PSAT score area. Remember, raw scores equal the number of correct answers you got. In other words, the highest raw score you can earn on a section will be the same as the total number of questions in that section.

Each of the three PSAT sections — Reading, Writing, and Math — contains a different total number of questions, or a different raw score range. Math is the only section that's actually divided into two subsections, No Calculator and Calculator, each of which has its own raw score range.

Here is an overview of the raw score ranges on the PSAT:

PSAT Section

Reading

Writing and Language

Math

No Calculator

Calculator

Raw Score Range

0-47

0-44

0-17

0-31

 

 

Raw Reading Score

Your raw Reading score will be out of 47 points. Using your practice test’s answer key, add up all of the correct answers you earned on the Reading section to get your raw Reading score. For example, if I were to miss 13 questions on the Reading section, my raw Reading score would be 34:

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Raw Writing and Language Score

Your raw Writing score will be out of 44 points. The Writing answer key is located next to the Reading answer key. Once again, add up all of your correct answers on your test's answer key to get your raw Writing score. Here's an example:

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Raw Math Score

As I mentioned above, Math is divided into two subsections: No Calculator and Calculator. This means you’ll receive two raw Math scores that'll be subsequently combined to give you a total raw Math score. The maximum number of points you can earn is 17 on Math No Calculator and 31 on Math Calculator. Altogether, then, you can earn up to 48 points on Math.

To calculate your raw Math score, tally your correct answers on the No Calculator and Calculator subsections. So if I were to miss 5 points on No Calculator and 8 on Calculator, my raw Math scores would be 12 and 23, respectively:

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Then, combine these two scores to get your total raw Math score:

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Step 2: Convert to Scaled Scores

Scaled, or equated, scores are the final section scores you'll receive on the PSAT. These scores use a scale of 160-760, with each accounting for half your total PSAT score.

As we discussed previously, raw-score-to-scaled-score conversions vary slightly with each PSAT due to differences in equating formulas. Thus, the conversion charts we use for our examples below will not apply exactly to all PSATs. (Remember, our examples are all based on a specific test — PSAT Practice Test #1!)

Now, let's take a look at how to calculate your scaled PSAT scores.

 

Math Section Score

Start by calculating your total raw Math score using the steps above. This score will be out of 48 points.

Next, look for the "Raw Score" and "Math Section Score" columns on your practice test’s raw score conversion table. (As a reminder, conversion tables vary slightly with each test, so one raw Math score on one test may not convert into the same scaled Math score on another test.) 

On the chart, your raw Math score will directly convert into a Math section score (i.e., a scaled score). To convert your score, simply match your raw score with the corresponding Math section score. In my example above, my total raw Math score was 35, which converts into 650:

 

Raw Score

Math Section Score

Raw Score

Math Section Score

0

160

25

560

1

190

26

570

2

210

27

580

3

240

28

580

4

270

29

590

5

290

30

600

6

320

31

610

7

340

32

620

8

360

33

630

9

370

34

640

10

390

35

650

11

400

36

670

12

420

37

680

13

430

38

690

14

440

39

710

15

460

40

720

16

470

41

730

17

480

42

730

18

490

43

740

19

500

44

740

20

510

45

750

21

520

46

750

22

530

47

760

23

540

48

760

24

550

   

 

 

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EBRW Section Score

Calculating your EBRW section score requires a couple of extra steps. Like the process you followed for figuring out your Math section score, begin by calculating your raw Reading and Writing scores (using the steps above). These scores will be out of 47 and 44 points, respectively.

Next, look for your scaled Reading and Writing scores using your practice test’s raw score conversion table. Find your raw scores for each section and then look across to the corresponding column to determine your Reading and Writing test scores. These test scores, though scaled, are not your final section scores. Unlike PSAT section scores, which use a score range of 160-760, test scores use a much smaller range of 8-38.

My raw Reading score above was 34, and my raw Writing score was 38. According to the following conversion table, these two raw scores convert into scaled (test) scores of 30 and 33, respectively:

 

Raw Score

Reading Test score

Writing and Language Test Score

Raw Score

Reading Test Score

Writing and Language Test Score

0

8

8

24

25

25

1

9

9

25

26

25

2

10

10

26

26

26

3

11

11

27

27

27

4

12

12

28

27

27

5

14

13

29

28

28

6

15

14

30

28

28

7

16

14

31

29

29

8

16

15

32

29

29

9

17

15

33

30

30

10

18

16

34

30

30

11

18

16

35

31

31

12

19

17

36

31

32

13

19

18

37

32

32

14

20

18

38

32

33

15

20

19

39

33

34

16

21

20

40

34

35

17

21

20

41

34

36

18

22

21

42

35

37

19

22

21

43

36

37

20

23

22

44

37

38

21

23

23

45

37

 

22

24

24

46

38

 

23

24

24

47

38

 

 

 

Step 3: Combine for Total Score

Once you have your individual Reading and Writing test scores, combine these scores to get a total EBRW test score on a scale of 16-76. Finally, multiply this sum by 10 to get your scaled EBRW score. As an equation, this conversion process can be written as so: (R+W)10=EBRW.

In my example above, my Reading and Writing test scores were 30 and 33, respectively. Using this equation, then, here's what my EBRW score comes out to: (30+33)10=(63)10=630.

Now, add your EBRW section score to your Math section score to get your total PSAT score out of 1520. In my example, my total PSAT score would be 650+630=1280.

 

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How to Calculate PSAT Subscores and Cross-Test Scores

In addition to calculating your raw and scaled scores, you have the option of calculating your subscores and cross-test scores. These additional scores offer a closer, more detailed analysis of your performance on particular content areas and question types on the PSAT.

Read on to learn how to calculate PSAT subscores and cross-test scores.

 

Subscores

To calculate your subscores, start by finding your raw scores for each of the following subscore categories:

Math

  • Heart of Algebra
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis
  • Passport to Advanced Math
EBRW
  • Expression of Ideas
  • Standard English Conventions
  • Words in Context
  • Command of Evidence

Add up your correct answers on Math and EBRW using their respective answer keys. Then, use your scoring guide to see which questions on your test make up which subscore categories. Here is an example of a subscore overview for the EBRW subscore Expression of Ideas:

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Once you’ve got your seven raw subscores, use your test’s raw score conversion table for subscores to convert your raw subscores into scaled subscores. All scaled subscores use a scale of 1-15. So for example, if I were to get a raw score of 17 on Expression of Ideas, my scaled subscore would be 12:

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Unfortunately, you're not allowed to have a lab partner on science questions.

 

Cross-Test Scores

You’ll also receive two cross-test scores:
  • Analysis in History/Social Studies
  • Analysis in Science

Unlike subscores, cross-test scores are not confined to a single section on the PSAT. This means that you can find a combination of Analysis in History/Social Studies and Analysis in Science questions in both the EBRW and Math sections.

Each cross-test score begins as a raw score. To find your raw cross-test scores, use your scoring guide to determine which EBRW and Math questions make up which cross-test categories. Below is an example of a cross-test score overview for the Analysis in Science score:

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Once you have your raw scores for both cross-test scores, use your test’s raw score conversion table for cross-test scores to figure out your scaled cross-test scores for History/Social Studies and Science. Scaled cross-test scores use a scale of 8-38 (note that this is different from the 1-15 scoring scale used for subscores). So if I were to receive a raw score of 19 on Analysis in Science, my scaled cross-test score for that area would equal 29:

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How to Calculate National Merit Selection Index

Finally, there’s the National Merit Selection Index score. Unlike the other scores we’ve covered so far, you won’t find any conversion table for your Selection Index on a PSAT practice test. So how can you calculate this score?

Here are the steps to take:

1. Find your Reading and Writing test scores. To find these scores, calculate your raw scores for Reading and Writing and then use your raw score conversion table to convert your raw scores into scaled test scores (on a scale of 8-38).

2. Find your Math test score. Unlike your Reading and Writing scores, your Math test score isn’t on a conversion chart. So how do you find this score? First, get your Math section score by matching your raw Math score to its corresponding scaled score on your conversion table. Then, to get your Math test score, simply divide your Math section score by 20. So if my scaled Math score were 680, my Math test score would be 680/20=34.

3. Add your test scores together. Next, combine your Reading, Writing, and Math test scores. This will give you a total PSAT test score on a scale of 24-114.

4. Multiply your total test score by 2. Finally, take your total PSAT test score and multiply it by 2 to get your Selection Index. Once again, the Selection Index score range is 48-228.

In the end, if you’re aiming for a scholarship, you’ll need to have a Selection Index high enough to qualify you for National Merit in your particular state. These cutoff Selection Index scores range anywhere from 209-222. For more information about the Selection Index scores needed to qualify, check out our guide on how to become a National Merit Semifinalist.

 

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Next up, we'll decipher the meaning of PSAT score calculations.

 

What Do PSAT Score Calculations Mean for YOU?

So far we’ve explained how to calculate various PSAT scores, from raw and scaled scores to subscores, cross-test scores, and Selection Index scores. But what do all of these calculations mean for you?

Using conversion tables as a PSAT score calculator allows you to form a rough idea as to how many questions you’ll need to answer correctly in order to attain a certain scaled PSAT score. Essentially, if you have a PSAT goal score in mind, you can use raw score conversion tables from official PSAT practice tests to estimate how many correct answers you’ll need to be able to hit your goal score on test day.

For example, let’s say your total PSAT goal score is 1300, or 640 on Math and 660 on EBRW. To get 640 on Math, you’ll need to score around 34-38 raw points, or get 34-38 questions right. (We calculated this estimated raw score range using the official conversion tables for PSAT Practice Test #1 and #2.)

Figuring out the number of questions you'll need to get right for EBRW, however, requires you to do more than just look at a conversion table. You'll first need to divide your EBRW goal score (in this case, 660) by 10 to get your EBRW test score. Then, divide this score by 2 to get your estimated test scores for the Reading and Writing sections. Finally, use official conversion tables to get a corresponding raw score for each of these two test scores. In my example, a 660 EBRW goal score equals about 38-39 raw points for Reading and 37-38 raw points for Writing.

Of course, these raw score ranges are all simply estimates. Because the College Board doesn’t tell us ahead of time how raw scores for upcoming PSATs will be equated, there’s no way to know for sure how many questions you’ll need to answer correctly in order to hit your goal scores. Still, you can get a pretty close approximation using official conversion tables!

 

Recap: How to Calculate PSAT Score

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320-1520 in 10-point increments. This total score consists of two section scores for Math and EBRW, each of which uses a scale of 160-760. You’ll also get subscores on a scale of 1-15 and cross-test scores on a scale of 8-38. Lastly, you’ll get a Selection Index score on a scale of 48-228; this score's sole purpose is to determine your eligibility for National Merit.

All of these PSAT scores are scaled, or equated, scores. Your PSAT scores will start out as raw scores based on the number of questions you answered correctly. Your raw scores are then converted into scaled scores using a special equating process exclusive to your test.

To convert your raw scores into scaled scores (or even vice versa), use raw score conversion tables for official PSAT practice tests. Though these tables apply to specific practice tests only, you can use them as a convenient PSAT score calculator to estimate the number of questions you’ll need to answer correctly in order to hit your goal scores on test day.

 

What’s Next?

Want to learn more about PSAT scoring (coming soon) and the PSAT score range (coming soon)? Our in-depth guides explain how the PSAT score range differs from the SAT score range as well as how you can use the PSAT scoring system to your advantage.

Are you aiming for National Merit? Get the rundown on how to win a scholarship and what you can do to guarantee yourself a perfect PSAT score!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian languages and cultures. After graduation, she taught English in Japan for two years via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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