My local spies tell me high school sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT/NMSQT® in October should be receiving results any day now. According to the College Board, the tests have been scored, analyzed, and are already on the desks of guidance counselors throughout the metropolitan area.
In fact, if you have your College Board online access code from previous years or can otherwise sign into your College Board account, you can have a little sneak peak at your scores before they’re handed out in homeroom or whatever public “reveal” session your school schedules for this purpose.
And this is great news, because unlike most services provided by our friends in Princeton, the PSAT offers an amazing amount of FREE information and advice all packaged together in materials test-takers automatically receive. Whatever you do, don’t trash the packet!
If you’re worried about test results, keep in mind that the “P” in PSAT stands for “preliminary” not “predictive.” These scores cannot predict how well you will do in college, and they say even less about how good a student you are. They represent a single snapshot in time, and sometimes that picture is neither flattering nor accurate. So don’t focus on the scores alone.
Also, be aware that colleges do not use these scores in the admissions process. Unless you happen to score in the very highest percentile of test-takers in your state, the test results have no usefulness to anyone but you, and they will never be reported to colleges.
So what good is the PSAT? As a service to its customers, the College Board organization invested considerable time, thought, and money into developing a package of materials to go along with scores. And it’s all provided FREE of charge to test-takers only.
First, every student who takes the PSAT receives an actual copy of the test booklet along with a complete Score Report “Plus” containing the correct answer, your answer, and the level of difficulty for each question on the test. This information can help you pinpoint test-taking strengths and weaknesses, and you really should go over your results carefully.
As part of the Score Report Plus, you will also receive personalized feedback on academic skills and will be directed to two or three areas that might need improvement as suggested by your answers on the test. If you’re thinking about signing up for an SAT prep class, this information can be extremely helpful in determining what kind of program or intensity level would be best for you.
But the best part of the total PSAT deal is that all students who take the test receive total access to My College QuickStart, which includes an online version of your Score Report as well a study plan, hundreds of practice SAT questions, and other early college planning tools including a useful major and career match inventory.
To access My College QuickStart, simply open a College Board website account using the access code printed on your PSAT paper score report. You can find your access code at the bottom right of the report under "Next Steps." The code begins with a letter, is followed by 8 numbers, and ends with a letter.
But if you’re a first-time user, you can’t take advantage of any of these tools without the information contained on your score report. And last year, some area high schools were very slow to distribute the reports.
If your guidance office hasn't made any announcements concerning distribution of PSAT packets, consider asking for an appointment with your counselor to go over your scores and get that access code before the holidays. This way, you can begin to make decisions about test prep as well as take advantage of some of the college planning materials provided by the College Board.
For more information on the PSAT/NMSQT® or to learn more about My College Quickstart, visit the College Board website.