By Mark L. Fisher | drmarkfisher@yahoo.com

In October, many high school underclassmen took the PSAT/NMSQT examination. For juniors, the test is all-important because it brings to life the fact that the college admissions process is right around the corner.

Which of the answers below shows how you handled your scores?

  • I don’t know the results.
  • How can I find my scores?
  • I have the results and put them away in a drawer or other hiding place.
  • I have studied my PSAT results and have taken steps to improve my scores.

Students who chose the last response can be commended. Any of the other three options would make one wonder whether college is really on the agenda. That should be a wake-up call.

Colleges will not see PSAT scores. That is not the point. A student needs to take advantage of the exam to score higher.

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher

On Dec. 12, students could see their scores online. For those unaware of that fact, go to www.psat.org/scorereport and put in the user name and password you used to sign up for the test or your College Board account.

If you have no idea about your account, create one. Ask your counselor for assistance; most likely the school has a paper copy of your test results. And there is always customer service at the College Board (866-433-7728).

The access code on your report is the key to your test because you can see your entire exam with the results online.

Taking the PSAT offers many benefits. It opens the door to some colleges, which can buy lists of students who scored in a certain range. The college buys your name and address, not any private information.

More important advantages include improved skills, scholarship opportunities and free practice at Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). Yes, there are other practice exams and preparation from SAT tutoring firms; compare the possibilities.

With access to your own exam, you will see your total score, which is the combination of the evidence-based reading and writing score and the math score, scaled to be comparable to the SAT.

Two areas indicate whether you are on track for college readiness in both those sections. Don’t let those scores scare you. The idea is to improve. If you need to strengthen certain skills, work on them. The report lets you know the skills you should review.

Then there is the Question-Level Feedback. You will see your answers, the correct answers, the difficulty of the question (easy, medium, hard) and subscore information.

High-scoring students could qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. In Georgia, the qualifying score for the competition this year is 219.

Analyze your scores. Look at each question and your answer. Where you went wrong or guessed, study the correct answer and the reason for that answer. How did you score on the easy questions, the medium questions and the hard questions? Were there certain types of math questions that gave you trouble? Were you getting a lot of answers wrong at the end on either section? Were a lot of questions at the end of a section unanswered because you didn’t have time?

If you are a junior, plan to take the SAT in the spring — maybe twice — and once in your senior year. The next tests after January, whose deadlines have passed, are in March, May and June.

Make a study plan and follow it closely. After reviewing your PSAT score, you should be able to determine where you need to concentrate. Do practice problems and study the answers and how to arrive at those correct answers.

Did you think that looking at your PSAT scores was all you needed from that October exam?

Parents, talk to your children about the results and help them get on the right track if they haven’t done that already.

Well, there is another possibility. Help is on the way. My next article will speak about the ACT, which, like the SAT, is accepted at all colleges.

 

Dr. Mark L. Fisher is a college and career consultant at Fisher Educational Consultants (www.fishereducationalconsultants.com) and a consultant for the College Planning Institute (www.GotoCPI.com).