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Articles / Preparing for College / Can I Appeal My PSAT Score?

Dec. 11, 2019

Can I Appeal My PSAT Score?

Can I Appeal My PSAT Score?

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I just got my PSAT scores back and I'm incredibly disappointed. I already took the ACT and got a 35. Now my PSAT is 1250 and that means I'm not going to be in contention for National Merit. Should I appeal? How could this happen?


I'm sorry that you were disappointed by your PSAT scores, especially because you got a great ACT composite. And with such a super ACT, you probably assume that there was a screw-up somewhere along the way (but not made by YOU!). However, "The Dean" suspects that you've only seen your online PSAT tally so far, but you haven't yet seen the complete score report. This report will allow you to look at the correct answer to every question and compare it to the answer you chose. (You can see a sample score report here.) Once you've gone through your full report, you may find out that you gave more incorrect answers than you expected. You may also discover that you accidentally skipped an answer along the way and so you ended up mis-numbering some of the questions, but a "right" answer in the wrong place still counts as wrong! If you discover that you skipped a question, it may solve a mystery for you but it won't enable you to re-test or appeal.

Although your PSAT score won't make you a National Merit finalist, you may be like the countless students and parents who put more emphasis on National Merit than it warrants. While National Merit scholarships can be a big help to students attending its member colleges and universities, many of the most sought-after schools don't even participate. If your grades are as high as your ACT score (and if you need financial assistance to attend college), you should be in the running at elite colleges that provide excellent need-based financial aid but that don't take part in National Merit. And even if your family qualifies for little or no need-based aid, an ACT score of 35 (along with good grades) makes you a strong contender for "merit aid" at many of the institutions that offer it.

So don't be too shaken by your PSATs. Remember ... the college admission folks will be impressed with your ACT score, and they won't even see your PSAT score!

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If you'd like to submit a question to College Confidential, please send it along here.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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