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New PSAT Scoring Guide and (Potential) National Merit Cutoffs

Since the New PSAT will follow a new scoring rubric, we thought it would be helpful to explain the breakdown of the scores and how to plan a good target score.

The New PSAT is scored on a range of 320 to 1520 points. The two main subject categories are Reading and Math. Within Reading, there are two sub-scores, Reading and Writing.

You may be wondering how this new range will be used to determine which students qualify for the National Merit Scholarship cutoff. In past years, the PSAT used a 60-to-240 score range. For students in Texas, they needed to score 220 or higher to qualify for National Merit Scholarships. How does that exactly translate for this year?

Well, there isn't a released cutoff yet, but if you want some idea on what to expect, we have done a little math to help give you a target score for this year's New PSAT/NMSQT.

First things first, let’s just talk about how the scores breakdown with an example:

Reading & Writing Score: 660 (320 Reading + 340 Writing)

Math Score: 720

These two scores create a composite 1380 test score. However, the NMS cutoff looks at the individual subject scores, each of which ranges from 8-38. So, let’s break down the Reading, Writing, and Math scores to their individual numbers.

Reading Test Score: 320 / 10 = 32

Writing Test Score: 340 /10 = 34

Math Test Score: 720 / 20 = 36*

*These conversions are based on College Board’s scale, found here:

NMS adds these individual subject scores together:

32 + 34 + 36 = 102

Then NMS multiplies the combined number by 2:

102 X 2 = 204

Using the NMS score scale, a composite subject score can range from 48 to 228.*

*Information about the scale comes from College Board:

Now let’s go back to what a possible cutoff score may be. In previous years, the cutoff score for the state of Texas was ~220 (out of 240). The new maximum PSAT/NMSQT score is 228. Time for math:

220/240 = 0.92

0.92 X 228 = 210

It looks like a score near 210 will be the new NMS cutoff. This may not be exact, but it can give you some idea on what to expect and help you plan your studying accordingly.

Also, notice how the New PSAT scale simply reduces the old one (60-240) by 12 points. It may be that you just need to subtract 12 from the old cutoff score. So, for Texas, that means 220 - 12 = 208.

There is no certainty with what the cutoff will be, but hopefully these numbers will help give you some idea and peace of mind. Of course, the best plan is to do as well as you can. Study hard. Focus on improving yourself and the rest will follow.

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