Percentiles are a beast. And the beast is out in full force with the new PSAT.

There’s been a lot of talk about scores, conversions, and selection indexes, but it all seems to focus now on percentiles. The slideshow below breaks down everything we know about the old PSAT percentiles, the redesigned PSAT percentiles, and the implications of the changes.

Update (February 2016): The College Board announced that they will replace sample percentiles with percentiles from actual test takers in 2016. The current user percentiles are based on data from students who took the old exam in 2014 and the new exam in 2015. Once the percentiles are updated, students, parents, and educators will grasp a better understanding of how a student performed compared to other testers.

Read the full transcript of the slide show here


Quickly find the answers to your immediate questions:

What is a percentile? Slide 2 of 24

What percentiles do we know? Slide 3 of 24

Are this year’s percentiles in line with previous years’? Slide 7 of 24

Why are percentiles important usually? Slide 10 of 24

Why are percentiles so important this year? Slide 11 of 24

Why do the percentiles look so different this year? Slide 15 of 24

Why does percentile inflation matter? Slide 20 of 24

Are the percentiles valid? Slide 21 of 24

What does this mean for National Merit? Slide 22 of 24

What does this mean for students’ test prep? Slide 23 of 24


Learn even more about the redesigned PSAT. We sat down with Evan Forster at Forster-Thomas to answer pressing questions from parents, students, and professionals. View the article here or listen to the podcast here.