The Examiner published a useful review of the challenges facing students who have recently completed the PSAT in preparation for the new SAT.

PSAT Scores are ready clip copyNancy Griesemer’s article is careful to describe the new effort by the College Board “as part of the redesign and repackaging of SAT-related products, it has spun off no less than 16 separate scores to consider and stress over.” Griesemer’s article from the Examiner is worth reading in its entirety here.

The article correctly points out the anxiety families are facing and the difficulty in understanding what the new scores mean both in terms of the National Merit award determinations as well as in terms of the work that is required to prepare for the upcoming SAT.

The best conclusion of the article is this – “Unfortunately, these overhauled reports feel overwrought and confusing. While they offer a vast array of measures—some helpful, some less so—and newly created subscores, they fall short of providing clear takeaways most students are seeking,” explained Bruce Reed, of Compass Education Group. “Aside from strongly encouraging students to now practice on Khan Academy, the new PSAT reports are not as obviously actionable as users need them to be.”

It is worth considering wow worried should families and their students be about their PSAT scores?  

We agree with Griesemer three conclusions.

  1. “do not worry – be assured that no college will ever see these test results. They are for your use only. So relax.”
  2.  “be careful about assuming too much about the relationship between the new PSAT scores and the old PSAT or SAT.”
  3. “in absence of comparable test scales…students may derive some information as to their performance from “percentiles. Percentiles…provide a fast glimpse into how well a student did relative to other PSAT test-takers and are limited in terms of how well they project success on other tests or the likelihood of becoming a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.

Given the importance of test scores to the admissions process it is useful to become a student of voices such as Griesmer and Bruce Reed.

We are thankful for the clear thinking they provide to what is otherwise a near monopoly franchise controlled by the College Board that the colleges and universities whom they serve.