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PSAT Oct 2019 Harsh Scaling Test Scores

XanderZvcXanderZvc 0 replies1 threads New Member
Hi, I just got my PSAT scores (I got them earlier from my school counselor since she was able to access them today). I noticed that the scale for the individual subsection scores that give you your National Merit Selection Index were extremely harsh in grading. I'll provide my score breakdown below.

SCORES
Total Score - 1420/1520
Reading/Writing - 690/760
Math - 730/760

QUESTIONS
Total - 131/138
Reading - 46/47
Writing - 40/44
Math w/o Calculator - 16/17
Math w/ Calculator - 30/31

NATIONAL MERIT INDEX
Index - 211/228
Reading - 36/38
Writing - 33/38
Math - 36.5/38

I'm just not quite sure how me missing one question on reading warranted a two point deduction from my reading index score, which means that it's impossible to even score a 37 on it, along with 5 points being deducted for only missing 4 questions on writing. I'm also not sure how a total missed question count of 7 warranted 100 points off of my total scale score.

I know that they scale it differently every single year but this seems extremely drastic and different from previous years, along with the fact that my PSAT/SAT tutor told me that normally only missing 7 questions would easily warrant a national merit qualification (in Texas it's usually 220-221). It's extremely frustrating as a matter of 4 questions separated me from qualifying, meaning that I would need to miss 2 or 3 questions total to even qualify.

Again, I understand that the scores are scaled different every single year, however I don't see how between this year and last year, suddenly thousands of juniors could become extremely smart and score so highly as usually the scores follow the same trends throughout the years. My friend who also only missed 5 total questions received a 1440/1520 which again seems extremely outlandish to me.
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Replies to: PSAT Oct 2019 Harsh Scaling Test Scores

  • OceanIsleOceanIsle 251 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2019
    Couldn’t agree more. I’m so sorry for you and for all students that face these unusually harsh curves after working so hard.

    I wish the College Board by now could come up with a more accurate prediction of rigor on a given exam in order to be more consistent.

    I wish you the best.

    edited December 2019
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  • biscuiteersbiscuiteers 12 replies2 threads New Member
    How is the harsh curve likely to affect the state cutoff scores, if at all?
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  • brownboi2brownboi2 1 replies0 threads New Member
    Hi there. I recently just received my score from my testing counselor.

    I live in Texas and received a 1490 with 2 questions wrong on the reading section. (30 point deduction)

    I couldn't agree with you more on this harsh scale and it is very unfortunate to see this affect many students.

    Do you have any idea what Texas's selection index will be for the class of 2021?
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  • biscuiteersbiscuiteers 12 replies2 threads New Member
    If you compare the 2019 PSAT test curves (for both 2019 test administrations) to those of the past few years, they most closely align with the 2018 curves. Per Compass Prep, here's how the 2018 curves played out on the 2020 cutoffs:

    "The changes were the narrowest we have seen in more than a decade of tracking National Merit cutoffs. Students hitting last years’ targets were almost universally rewarded with Semifinalist status. Only Idaho’s cutoff moved up this year (from 214 to 215). Exactly half the states saw lower cutoffs this year, and twenty-four cutoffs were unchanged. No cutoff changed by more than 2 points—again, almost unprecedented stability."

    Given that the 2018 and 2019 curves are so similar — and that it could be argued that the 2019 curve might be even more harsh (particularly when you look at the reading and writing curves), it might be safe to say that the cutoffs may parallel what we saw this year, with most state cutoffs dropping or remaining the same.

    Texas has been at 221 for the past three years and most likely will remain there or possibly drop by 1. Purely speculation based on analysis of past curves and how they affected past cutoffs.
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  • micalcbac22micalcbac22 5 replies2 threads New Member
    I lost 70 points for missing only four questions, and I'm also in Texas so chances are my 219 SI will fall short of Semifinalist cutoff.
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  • TXRunningMomTXRunningMom 380 replies20 threads Member
    @micalcbac22 , egads! Only missed 4 questions?! Yikes! There were 6 states last year that dropped 2 SI points so maybe it could happen?! I'm game for Texas dropping 2 points! How many from each section did you miss?
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  • micalcbac22micalcbac22 5 replies2 threads New Member
    I missed 1 in reading (-20 points) and 3 in math (-50 points). So 36/38/35.5 if you’re wondering about section scores as well.
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  • TXRunningMomTXRunningMom 380 replies20 threads Member
    @micalcbac22 , my daughter graduated high school this year and is National Merit. She also missed 4 ( one reading, one writing, 2 math) and had a 223 SI. That totally stinks that the curve has you at 219. I hoping the SI drops for you in Texas!
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  • JulietJulietJulietJuliet 1 replies0 threads New Member
    The reason that that one last question is worth so many points is that so few get that one last question. Not all questions are equal.
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 1609 replies33 threads Senior Member
    @JulietJuliet Actually, all questions are weighted equally.
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  • aela00aela00 1 replies1 threads New Member
    I got 1 wrong on reading and 1 wrong on math, and I got 740 on both sections. So seems like they took off 20 pts for the first wrong and then -10 for each wrong answer after that? My selection index was 36/38/37 (so -2 on reading for 1 wrong question? but just -1 for 1 wrong on math? idk)
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  • mg121779mg121779 2 replies0 threads New Member
    I got 1460 in PSAT with SI 219 for PA. PA has been at 220 for the past two years. what are the chances of meeting the cutoff for NMSQT semifinalist? will it drop to 219 or not this year...
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  • ReebtoorReebtoor 264 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Actually, @evergreen5 , from a scaled score perspective, that isn't right. Looking at the Understanding PSAT Scores booklet pg 15, you can see that missing only one question on the Math section (Oct 16th test form) takes you down 20 points while missing two questions takes your score down 30-- the second wrong question is worth 10 points.

    You can see that getting 37 or 38 questions right on the Reading Section yields you the exact same section score. Getting 39 or 40 questions right on the Writing/Language section gives you the same scaled score. So, really, each question is not weighted equally from a scaled perspective.

    Now, if you were saying that Question 8 is worth the same as Question 9 or Question 20, theoretically, that is true. But, in reality, missing six questions vs. missing seven questions does not mean that your score goes down in a linear fashion. The scale is clearly NOT linear.
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  • azmomsazmoms 2 replies0 threads New Member
    edited December 2019
    @mg121779 DD scored a 1460 in PSAT in AZ with an SI of 218. AZ was 219 cutoff last year, but 220 in years prior, so we are wondering the same thing. How does a 1460 equate to an SI of 219 in PA and a 218 in AZ? Not sure how that works, I have not done the research.
    edited December 2019
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  • 47295624729562 23 replies6 threads Junior Member
    @azmoms It has nothing to do with the state. The reading and writing is weighted more heavily than the math for selection index, so two scores that are the same out of 1520 can give a different selection index depending on scores on the two sections.
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  • aasumar123aasumar123 1 replies0 threads New Member
    @4729562 Yeah I agree with you because the curve REALLY did me dirty. I got a 1460 and missed two on both reading and writing, and it gave me a SI of 216, which ruined my chances.
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  • highschoolinnjhighschoolinnj 8 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Missed 2 in reading and 3 points taken off (35 score)
    Missed 2 in math and 1.5 point taken off (36.5 score)
    Hope NJ cutoff is lowered - It was 223 last year
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  • mg121779mg121779 2 replies0 threads New Member
    it was 35 in writing 38 in reading and 36.5 in math so SI of 219
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  • azmomsazmoms 2 replies0 threads New Member
    edited December 2019
    My DD was 36 reading (missed 3), 36 writing (missed 1), and 37 math (missed 2), SI 218. Sadly, she did better as a sophomore in reading and writing. And @4729562, that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.
    edited December 2019
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1689 replies13 threads Senior Member
    This took me a while to figure out. My kid took the Oct test as a Sophomore. Usually gets 99% in these tests ( has taken SAT and SSAT), the PSAT score was very low comparatively. Percentage in PSAT was top 2% but the SI was extremely low. To get from 98% to 99% and the SI needed would mean virtually no mistakes. Effectively one would have to get only 1-2 wrong to get NMF in our state. And didn't even look as though it was guaranteed. I had to plug it in several times and do back solving. Looks at though the steep curve means some will be in or out based on a single question or two rather than several wrong questions.
    The jump from 98% to 99% ( and SI to meet the threshold was a huge jump of more than 20 points that seemed odd to me).

    They really need to work on these tests. My kid is going to take the PSAT/10 test to practice again. I'm actually glad my kid has taken standardized test before and has confidence. Otherwise, this result would have been a shock.
    I still don't get the high % and the low score. Maybe I just read it wrong, maybe a 98% is very common and it's only between the top 1% of the 1% scores. IDK.

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