# Understanding 2003

PSAT/NMSQT

®

Scores

Who takes the PSAT/NMSQT?
Of the more than two million students who take the test, most are high school juniors. Nearly all students who take the test indicate they plan to attend college. The 20,000 high schools that test-takers attend vary greatly in size, curricula, standards, grading systems, population served, and source of support. For students who take the PSAT/NMSQT®, the score report provides a standardized view of their scholastic skills, regardless of the school attended, and helps them compare themselves to other college-bound students nationwide.

What does the PSAT/NMSQT measure?
The PSAT/NMSQT measures skills in three basic academic areas important for success in college. Ⅲ Verbal reasoning questions involve analogies, sentence completions, and critical reading. Ⅲ Math problem-solving questions deal with arithmetic, algebra, and geometry; some involve quantitative comparisons. Ⅲ Writing skills questions ask students to identify sentence errors, improve sentences, and improve paragraphs.

be the result of many factors, long-term educational preparation is the primary cause. The test itself reflects such differences but does not cause them. Ⅲ Individual student scores. Score reports show a numerical score for each area measured, as well as a range that extends from a few points below the score to a few points above. This range shows the extent to which a student’s score might differ with repeated testing, assuming that the student’s skill level remains constant. Ⅲ Differences between students. When comparing scores between students for the same measure (verbal, math, writing skills), you can determine true differences in scores by using the standard error of the difference (SED). Differences of fewer than 8 points (or 1.5 SED) are not significant, while differences of 8 points or more are likely to reflect true differences in scores.

Can PSAT/NMSQT scores be used to estimate SAT® scores?
Verbal and math questions in the PSAT/NMSQT are the same kind as those in the SAT® I: Reasoning Test. Writing skills questions are the same kind as those in the multiplechoice section of the SAT II: Writing Test. These similarities are intentional, as the PSAT/NMSQT is designed to be a practice for SAT Program tests. The PSAT/NMSQT scale of 20 to 80 is equivalent to the SAT scale of 200 to 800. Estimated SAT score ranges are included on student score reports. Two times out of three, juniors will earn SAT scores within these ranges but actual scores may be higher (or lower) than these estimates. Higher than estimated SAT scores may result from intervening activities, such as Ⅲ developing skills through rigorous academic courses Ⅲ participating in problem-solving activities Ⅲ extensive, quality outside reading Ⅲ following the advice in the “Improve Your Skills” section of Score Report Plus Ⅲ becoming familiar with test directions, types of questions, and pacing Juniors frequently take the SAT 6 or 7 months after taking the PSAT/NMSQT. Estimated SAT scores for all test-takers assume the SAT is taken within a year of taking the PSAT/NMSQT. Sophomores will usually not take the SAT for 18 months, so there may be a greater likelihood that intervening activities will influence their SAT scores. continued on back cover

How is the PSAT/NMSQT scored?
First, a raw score is computed. Students receive one point for each correct answer (regardless of difficulty). For incorrect answers to multiple-choice questions, a fraction of a point is deducted based on the number of answer choices: four choices, 1/3 point deduction; five choices, 1/4 point deduction. Nothing is deducted for unanswered questions or for an incorrect answer to a student-produced response question. Next, the raw score is converted to a score on the PSAT/ NMSQT scale of 20 to 80. This statistical procedure, called equating, adjusts for differences in difficulty between various forms, or editions, of the test. Equating makes it possible to compare the scores of students who have taken different editions of the test.

Do PSAT/NMSQT scores fairly reflect students’ skills?
Concern for fairness is an integral part of the development of the PSAT/NMSQT. Comprehensive reviews and analyses ensure that questions and tests are fair for different groups of students. Although differences in test performance may

Ⅲ PSAT/NMSQT scores should be interpreted as ranges rather than points. Ⅲ Percentiles are based on the verbal. the standard deviation is smaller than it would be for a more diverse group.88 0. 47.140 2 . Ⅲ The standard deviation is a measure of the variability of a set of scores around their mean.8 4. percentiles for juniors compare their performance with that of other juniors who took the test.4 846.87 0.2 846.431 Math 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 99 99 98 98 97 96 96 95 94 93 91 90 88 87 85 82 79 76 73 70 70 66 63 59 56 52 48 44 41 37 33 30 29 26 23 20 17 14 14 11 9 8 6 5 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 45. math.140 48. Ⅲ A reliability coefficient helps to show expected fluctuation in scores if a student takes a test more than once.82 Average SEM 3.6 11.0 548.0 548.6 846.9 10.2 10. and writing skills scores earned by a sample of collegebound juniors or sophomores who took the PSAT/NMSQT in 2003. JUNIORS Percentiles Score 80 79 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 Mean score Standard deviation Number of juniors in sample SOPHOMORES Percentiles Writing Skills 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 98 98 98 97 96 96 95 93 93 91 89 89 87 86 83 80 78 76 75 71 69 65 60 58 56 53 49 44 39 35 32 29 25 20 18 14 12 9 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 Points to Note Writing Skills 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 98 98 98 98 96 96 95 94 93 92 91 89 86 85 83 82 79 77 73 69 67 66 63 59 54 49 46 43 39 34 29 27 22 18 14 11 10 9 6 6 4 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 47. Reliability shows how consistently students would earn similar scores in repeated testings.140 50.PSAT/NMSQT Percentiles and Mean Scores can be used to compare students’ performance with that of juniors and sophomores. If the test scores cluster tightly around the mean score.4 10. or no expected fluctuation. A reliability coefficient of 1. The higher the reliability coefficient. Reliability Coefficient Verbal Mathematics Writing skills 0. percentiles compare their performance with that of sophomores.2 11. Ⅲ On the score report. as they do when the group tested is relatively homogeneous.1 Points to Note Data are based on a sample of sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT/NMSQT in the previous year (2002 Tuesday and Saturday forms). The standard error of measurement (SEM) in the table above indicates that a student who took different forms of the test under identical conditions would be likely to earn scores within 4 points of one another.431 Verbal 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 98 98 97 97 97 96 95 93 92 91 90 88 85 84 82 79 77 74 71 68 64 61 57 53 49 46 42 39 35 32 28 25 22 20 17 14 11 10 8 7 5 5 4 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 Math 99+ 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 99 98 98 97 97 96 95 94 92 92 90 89 87 84 83 80 79 76 73 70 66 63 59 59 55 52 48 44 40 36 33 29 26 23 21 20 17 14 13 10 8 8 6 5 4 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 Score 80 79 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 Mean score Standard deviation Number of sophomores in sample Verbal 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99+ 99 99 99 99 98 98 97 97 96 95 94 93 91 90 89 87 85 83 80 78 75 72 68 65 62 58 54 52 48 44 40 36 33 30 26 23 19 17 15 12 10 10 7 7 5 5 4 3 2 2 2 1 1 44. Ⅲ The mean score is the statistic that describes the average performance of a group. For sophomores or younger students.5 548.00 would indicate perfect reliability. the smaller the fluctuation of scores across repeated testings.431 Ⅲ Percentiles indicate the percentage of students whose scores fall below each specified score.0 4.4 10.

000 will earn 2003 PSAT/NMSQT scores high enough to qualify them for recognition. Students who qualify to continue in the competitions for scholarships to be offered in 2005 then must meet academic and other requirements specified by NMSC in order to be considered for awards.Selection Index Percentiles and Mean Score can be used to compare students’ performance with that of juniors. Ⅲ Percentiles are based on the Selection Index earned by a sample of college-bound juniors who took the PSAT/NMSQT in 2003.7 29. For example. and awards to be offered—should be sent to National Merit Scholarship Corporation. about 55. For students and parents. These students will be notified of their standing through their high schools in September 2004. Detailed descriptions of NMSC programs are published in the Guide to the National Merit® Scholarship Program and the National Achievement Scholarship Program Information Booklet. Suite 200. Participation in NMSC’s competitions for scholarships to be offered in 2005 is determined by responses to the four program entry items on the 2003 PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet.org. mailed to high school principals each fall. Evanston. Of the more than one million NMSC program entrants. the selection process. and a writing skills score of 59 would result in a Selection Index of 177 (56 + 62 + 59). IL 60201-4897. and writing skills scores.140 3 . Both the PSAT/NMSQT Score Report Plus and the Roster of Student Scores and Plans show the student’s Selection Index.2 846.nationalmerit. JUNIORS Selection Index 240-224 223 222 221 220 219 218 217 216 215 214 213 212 211 210 209 208 207 206 205 204 203 202 201 200 199 198 197 196 195 194 193 192 191 190 189 188 187 186 185 184 183 182 181 180 179 178 177 176 175 174 173 172 171 170 169 168 167 166 165 Points to Note Selection Index 104 103 102 101 100 99 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 90 89 & below Percentile 99+ 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 99 98 98 98 98 98 98 97 97 97 97 96 96 96 96 95 95 95 94 94 94 93 93 92 92 91 91 90 90 89 89 88 87 87 86 85 85 84 83 82 81 81 80 79 78 77 76 75 74 73 Selection Index 164 163 162 161 160 159 158 157 156 155 154 153 152 151 150 149 148 147 146 145 144 143 142 141 140 139 138 137 136 135 134 133 132 131 130 129 128 127 126 125 124 123 122 121 120 119 118 117 116 115 114 113 112 111 110 109 108 107 106 105 Percentile 72 71 70 69 68 67 65 64 63 62 61 59 58 57 56 54 53 52 50 49 48 46 45 44 42 41 40 38 37 36 34 33 32 31 29 28 27 26 25 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 14 13 12 11 11 10 9 9 8 7 7 Percentile 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 1 Ⅲ Reported on a scale ranging from 60 to 240. How NMSC Uses the Selection Index National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) uses the Selection Index score as an initial screen of the 1. math. telephone 847 866-5100.3 million test-takers who meet program entry requirements and to designate groups of students to be honored in the competitions it conducts. Inquiries about any aspect of the National Merit or National Achievement Program—including entry requirements. 1560 Sherman Avenue. the Selection Index is the sum of the verbal. a verbal score of 56. information about the competitions is given in the PSAT/NMSQT Student Bulletin and at www. and whether the student meets participation requirements. SM Mean score Standard deviation Number of juniors in sample 146. the student’s responses to the entry items. a math score of 62.

This ensures 4 that a score of. 2003 Scores Points 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 PSAT/NMSQT FORM S — Saturday.2003 PSAT/NMSQT Score Conversion Tables show how points obtained on the test are converted to scores on the 20-80 PSAT/NMSQT scale. Ⅲ There is no advantage or disadvantage in taking either the Tuesday or Saturday form. A statistical process called equating adjusts for these small differences. October 18. . October 21. 65 on one form of the test reflects a similar level of performance as does a 65 on another form of the test. 2003 Scores Writing Skills 56 55 54 53 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 35 34 32 31 29 27 25 23 22 20 20 20 Scores Writing Skills Points 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 Scores Writing Skills Points Verbal 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 40 38 37 36 35 35 33 32 30 29 28 26 24 21 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 Verbal 80 80 79 77 75 73 72 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 50 49 48 47 Math Verbal 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 30 29 28 26 25 23 21 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 Math 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 38 37 36 35 34 32 31 29 28 26 24 22 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 Points 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 Verbal 80 80 78 76 75 73 71 70 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 Math Math 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 39 38 37 35 34 32 30 29 27 25 23 21 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 Writing Skills 56 54 53 52 51 49 48 47 46 45 43 42 41 40 39 38 36 35 33 31 29 28 26 24 22 21 20 20 20 20 20 80 77 75 73 71 69 68 66 65 64 62 61 60 59 57 56 55 54 53 52 80 80 80 80 78 76 74 72 71 69 68 66 65 63 62 61 60 58 57 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10 or below 80 77 74 72 71 69 67 66 64 63 62 61 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 80 80 80 78 77 75 74 72 71 70 68 67 65 64 63 61 60 59 57 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10 or below Points to Note Ⅲ Points represent the total number of correct answers minus a fraction of a point for each incorrect answer to a multiple-choice question. PSAT/NMSQT FORM T — Tuesday. say. Ⅲ Points are totaled. Ⅲ Converting points to scores adjusts for slight differences in difficulty between various forms. then converted to scores on the 20-80 PSAT/NMSQT scale. Ⅲ Nothing is deducted for incorrect answers to student-produced response questions or for omitted answers of any type.