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How Much You Need to Improve to Maintain Your Percentile Rank

By December 4, 2018PSAT, SAT

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When students receive their PSAT and SAT scores, they often want to put those scores into context. One way to look at the context of your scores is through percentiles.

College Board provides two types of percentile ranks: National Representative Sample and User. The User Percentile presents a more accurate picture of how a student compares to other college-bound students—it also requires a bit of digging to find. The User Percentile appears on students’ online reports.

Percentiles reflect the percentage of students at or below each score. In order to maintain a percentile rank achieved on the sophomore PSAT, a student must increase subsequent scores.

For instance, 1140 on the PSAT in 10th grade would place a student in the 86th percentile, but to maintain that position, the student would need to achieve 1240 on the junior PSAT and 1290 on the SAT—an increase of 150 points.

The 86th percentile means that 14% of students performed better than the student. If this student wanted to cut that percentage in half, ultimately ranking in the 93rd percentile, she would need to achieve 1380 on the SAT—a 240-point increase from the 10th grade PSAT.

The following table is designed to allow you to track user percentiles and scores from sophomore PSAT to the SAT. 

Percentile10th Grade PSAT 11th Grade PSATSATPercentile
99+1440–15201490–15201550–160099+
991370–14301460–14801500–154099
981320–13601430–14501470–149098
971290–13101400–14201450–146097
961270–12801380–13901430–144096
951250–12601360–13701410–142095
941230–12401340–13501390–140094
931210–12201320–1330138093
92120013101360–137092
9111901290–1300135091
9011801280134090
8911701270133089
88116012601310–132088
8711501250130087
8611401240129086
8511301220129085
8411201220128084
8311101210127083
8211101200126082
8111001190125081
8010901190124080
7910801170123079
7810801170122078
7710701160122077
7610601160121076
7510601150121075
7410501140120074
7310501140119073
7210401130118072
7110301120118071
7010301120117070
6910201110117069
6810201110116068
6710101100115067
6610001100115066
6510001090114065
649901080114064
639901080113063
629801070112062
619801070112061
609701060111060
599701060111059
589601050110058
579601050110057
569501040109056
559501040109055
549401030108054
539301030108053
529301020107052
519201010106051
509201010106050
499101000105049
489101000105048
47900990104047
46900990104046
45890980103045
44890980103044
43880970102043
42880970102042
41870960101041
40870960101040
39870950100039
38860940100038
3785093099037
3685093098036
3584092098035
3484092097034
3384092097033
3283091096032
3183090095031
3082090095030
2982089094029
2881089094028
2781088093027
2680087092026
2580087092025
2479086091024
2379085090023
2278085090022
2178084089021
2077083088020
1977083088019
1876082087018
1776081086017
1675081086016
1575080085015
1474079084014
1374079083013
1273078082012
1173077081011
1072076080010
97107507909
87107407808
77007307707
66907207606
56807107505
4660–670700730–7404
3650680–690710–7203
2620–640650–670690–7002
1550–610590–640640–6801
1-320–540320–580400–6301-

SOURCES: College Board, SAT Understanding Scores 2018 and PSAT/NSMQT Understanding Scores 2018.

Ash Kramer

About Ash Kramer

With a career in test prep and higher education that began in the late 90s, Ash has held a variety of educational roles from tutor to administrator. She is currently a PhD candidate at USC and the Director of Curriculum at Compass, where she is lucky to lead a brilliant team creating the very best learning materials for students and their tutors.

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