All Grade 10 students take the PSAT test in October each year. (They will also take it a second time in October of Grade 11.)
In January, students and parents will receive a PSAT score sheet. The score sheet is divided into three vertical sections, one for each type of question: Critical Reading, Mathematics, and Writing. There will be sub-scores for each section. The lowest possible sub-score is 20, and the highest possible is 80. The total score (out of 240) is called the Selection Index. (Although it refers to the National Merit Scholarship, this part can be ignored, since it does not apply to 10th graders.)
The PSAT test follows the same format as the SAT Reasoning Test, which is the main qualification for admission into universities and colleges in North America and most other English-speaking countries, including English-language universities in Japan. The SAT also has three types of questions, like the PSAT, but each sub-score ranges from 200 to 800, with a maximum possible total score of 2400. The PSAT is an excellent preparation for the SAT, but students must take the specific steps explained below to improve their academic skills before they take the SAT Reasoning Test.
The score sheet also contains a percentile for each of the three sub-scores, and also for the total Selection Index. Parents and students should pay careful attention to these percentiles, since they compare each student’s performance to all of the other 10th graders (over one million) in North America and at international schools around the world who took the PSAT test in 2011. This is a good indication of where each student stands in relation to other students at English-speaking schools. The highest percentile is 99, meaning that the score is higher than 99% of the other students who took the test. If the percentile is 50, the student placed right in the middle, above 50% of the other students. The lowest percentile is 1.
The original test booklet will also be given to students along with the score sheet, so that they can go over each of the questions which they got wrong to find out why, so they can learn from their mistakes. English and Mathematics teachers will also have copies of the test question booklet, which they can use in class. However, there are also very useful online resources which each 10th grader can use individually. They are called My College QuickStart. The Online Access Code, printed on the score sheet, allows each student to use all of these resources, which are completely free and open to all students who have taken the PSAT. Go to this website: www.collegeboard.org/quickstart. Students can then access all of these resources:
- My Online Score Report
Individual score results, details of test questions (including explanation of the answers and how to solve each question), and a projected score on the SAT Reasoning test (students can filter and sort all answers to identify the skills they need to improve.)
- My SAT Study Plan
Personalized skills feedback and access to hundreds of practice questions to prepare for the SAT Reasoning test (This includes suggestions for improving scores before students take the SAT.)
- My Personality
A detailed personality test that can help students discover college majors and careers that fit their strengths and interests
- My College Matches
A starter list of colleges and universities in North America, based on the subjects and careers that interest each student
- My Major and Career Matches
Extensive information about majors and careers, including what to expect in college and what courses to take in Grades 11-12 of high school
Students should take advantage of these resources. They will improve their overall academic performance, which should result in higher grades for Semester II in all subjects (leading to a higher Grade Point Average, or GPA, on the high school transcript). They will also help to improve performance on the IGCSE exams in May as well as the SAT Reasoning Test which students may take in the spring of Grade 10, and will take in the autumn of Grade 11.