What does a score of 1100 of the October 2015 PSAT really mean? And how does that compare to an ACT score?

asked 20 Apr '16, 10:09

Laura_PrepScholar's gravatar image


For the October 2015 PSAT specifically, an 1100 would put you in the 76th percentile (meaning you scored as well as or better than 76% of all the students who took the PSAT. An 1100 on the 2015 PSAT puts you in the 75th percentile of all 11th graders who normally take the PSAT, or in the 79th percentile of all 11th graders nationwide. This means that with a score of 1100, you scored as well as or better than 75% of all 11th grade students who typically take the PSAT, and as well as or better than 79% of typical 11th grade US students. Our blog article on what a good PSAT score is goes into more detail on what scores might be required for National Merit Scholars (depending on your state), and what would be a good PSAT score for college.

How an 1100 on the PSAT compared to the ACT is a little more tricky, since the best way to compare the PSAT and ACT is to compare the PSAT to the SAT and then the SAT to the ACT. The new out-of-1600 SAT has only been administered a few times so far, so the concordance isn't going to be exact, especially for lower scores. I've come up with an improvised system to use in the interim until more data is available on how the new SAT compares to the ACT; it's not 100% accurate, but it can at least serve as a starting point for estimating a potential ACT score from your PSAT score.

  1. Convert your out-of-1520 PSAT score to an out of 1600 score by adding 80: 1100 +80 = 1180.
  2. Convert your out-of-1600 score to the equivalent old SAT score. Currently, the College Board has an Excel spreadsheet with data about the concordance between the new SAT and ACT composite scores (Table 16): ACT to new SAT conversion table

As you can see, an 1180 on the new SAT is roughly equivalent to an ACT composite score of 24.

Optional: Convert your PSAT score to an old SAT score to use our chart and estimate how you'd improve by the time you take the actual SAT. For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume your 1100 PSAT score breaks down to 640/760 math and 460/760 reading and writing; after adding 40 points to each score to bump it up to be out of 800, you'd have a 680 on Math and 500 on reading and writing:

Convert New SAT to Old SAT

For the old PSAT, we found that a starting PSAT score (out of 2400) between 1200 and 1800 could be expected to improve by 155 points when students took the actual SAT. 1540 + 155 = 1625.

  • Use our ACT-to-SAT conversion chart to find the equivalent ACT composite score for an SAT score of 1625, if you want to find out how you'd do on the ACT if you took it in the future):

Old SAT to ACT Comparison

So theoretically, you could be expected to improve to a 25 on the ACT. However, the chain of equivalences you need to get to this point (PSAT to new SAT to old SAT to old SAT + expected improvement to ACT) is so lengthy that you have to take this calculation with a grain of salt.

Ultimately, the better estimate of the equivalent ACT score comes from turning your PSAT score (1100) into a new SAT score (1180) and comparing that to the ACT scores using the College Board's own data, which tells you a PSAT score of 1100 = ACT composite score of 24.

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answered 20 Apr '16, 11:06

Laura_PrepScholar's gravatar image


edited 24 Jun '16, 11:23

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