Jan 6, 2016

2015 PSAT/NMSQT scores debut tomorrow—January 7

Results from the first test in the newly redesigned College Board suite of assessments officially made their way to high school counseling offices today, and PSAT/NMSQT® scores from October will publicly debut for student review tomorrow—January 7, 2016. 

After a disappointing delay in score delivery for December, the College Board has developed an aggressive marketing plan targeted to juniors who took the 2015 PSAT and want to access their scores for purposes of preparing for the SAT® or simply determining potential eligibility for a National Merit® Scholarship.
And the marketing seems to have two objectives: to direct student interest away from ACT and back to College Board products and  to entice students into providing substantial personal information through a robust registration and tracking system operated under the BigFuture™ banner of college planning tools.

According to the College Board, test-takers who provided information that is easily linked to a student account they’ve already opened (a little over 50 percent of the students who took the test) should receive a notice that their scores are available between January 7 and January 9.  For “load-bearing” reasons, the notifications are being split up by thirds, but all students can start checking for scores on January 7, regardless of email timing.

Because students don’t register for the PSAT, there’s no guarantee that a specific answer grid could be tied to a specific online account. But based on school, birthdate, last name, and a combination of factors, the College Board is able to use their powerful tracking system to match a majority of students automatically. This will enable students to see their results when they log in or create an account—no additional information or “code” will be necessary to retrieve scores. In cases, where the College Board was unable to match the grid to an existing account, students can get a unique access code from their school counselors.

Less anxious students can wait for paper scores to be delivered to high schools and distributed through whatever mechanism the school has developed for this purpose. Paper score reports should be available by the end of January.

But back up a moment. Note that only students with College Board accounts will be able to access online scores now. No account—no scores at least until the high school has the time to hand them out.

And that account places students on the College Board radar system, which not only facilitates registration for future SATs but also potentially provides a useful set of data, which can be sold to colleges for recruitment purposes.

To retrieve scores, students will log in to their accounts where they should find results from the October test.  The total score for PSAT/NMSQT ranges from 320 to 1520. It is the sum of their Math section score added to their Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section score. This is the score the student would likely receive on the SAT had they taken the SAT on the same day they took the PSAT/NMSQT (note that the SAT total score ranges from 400 to 1600). 

When students click “View Details,” they will be taken to more detailed score reports including individual test scores, cross-test scores and subscores. Each has a different relationship to the total score, and each has a different score range. For the record, cross-test scores are derived from questions related to science or history/social studies on the Reading Test, the Writing and Language Test and the Math Test. 

This brings us to the National Merit Scholarship Program.  Beginning with the 2015 administration of the newly designed PSAT/NMSQT, Selection Index scores will be calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, the Writing and Language, and the Math Test scores (Selection Index scores will range between 24 and 228). This number will be used to determine 50,000 high-scoring participants who qualify for program recognition.  From this group, 16,000 will be designated as “semifinalists” next September.  For more information, students are welcome to refer to the Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT booklet or the NMSC website.

According to materials circulated by the College Board, a preliminary concordance of 2014 and 2015 PSAT/NMSQT scores should be available on January 6 (today). It will remain preliminary until May when the SAT concordance is finalized.

Once the initial information provided on the score report has been digested, it’s time to consider the real value of the PSAT, which is to help students prepare for college entrance exams—the SAT and the ACT. Thanks to a partnership with Khan Academy, students will be able to link their PSAT scores to practice materials which will support skill-building across tests. Although targeted to the SAT, the similarity between the redesigned SAT and the ACT should help students prepare more efficiently for both tests.

As a partner with the College Board, Khan Academy will offer “official” SAT practice at no cost. Students will have access to thousands of SAT test questions and four full-length SATs.  SAT practice can be accessed on a computer or by using the Daily SAT Practice app or Khan Academy app on any mobile device.  In addition, Kahn Academy will create personalized learning plans for each student based on test performance. By linking the College Board and Khan Academy accounts, all SAT “suite” results can be sent to customize practice using actual results.

To begin the linking process, students must 

  1.  Log in or create a Khan Academy account
  2. When prompted, agree to link the Khan Academy and College Board accounts. Students will then be directed to collegeboard.org
  3. Sign in or create a College Board account
  4. When prompted, hit “Send” to authorize account linking
  5. Students may then start working on Official SAT practice on Khan Academy
In the spirit of any test prep is useful test prep, assume that skills developed here may very well be transferable to other assessments.

To support the introduction of test results and encourage use of Khan Academy, school counseling offices have been provided with access to a number of resources they will be sharing over the coming weeks. In the meantime, PSAT/NMSQT scores will officially be available to students starting on January 7 and the race to the “new” SAT begins.

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