Do colleges look at PSSA scores?

Do colleges look at PSSA scores?

To know do colleges look at PSSA scores….Read on this article….!

PSSA is the acronym for Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. It was launched in the year 1992. It is a procedure for assessing the academic performance of the students studying in class/grades 3 to 8 by taking a test in subjects like English, Arts, and Maths. Students of grades 4 and 8 are required to give a test in Science along with the three streams. They are standardized tests based on definite parameters, decided by the educational curriculum of the state government, known as Assessment anchors and Eligible content. The test scores are helpful for the parents, teachers, and the district itself to know which student or school is lagging in academics and needs more attention.Colleges often look at SAT or ACT or AP or IB scores rather than PSSA scores.

Do colleges look at PSSA scores?

Most Undergraduate programs demand the requirement of one or more U.S. standardized test scores along with other factors while analyzing admission applications. They often look at SAT or ACT or AP or IB scores rather than pssa scores. Community colleges don’t require these scores due to their flexible admission policies. They offer a placement test in your field of study upon arrival. Colleges use these test scores only for Scholarships or Honors colleges. Due to the breakdown of the pandemic (Covid-19) in 2019, the ratio of students appearing in these state standardized exams is very low compared to the past years, and that’s the foremost reason for colleges to skip out on these tests scores during their admission procedure. In 2019, many high schools started the “Keystone Exam” for the students of 11th class in subjects like Algebra1, Biology, and Literature to be a graduate.

Levels in PSSA exams scores: –

There are four levels in PSSA scores which are as follows –

  • Advanced Level
  • Proficient Level 
  • Basic Level 
  • Below-basic Level

The first two levels are contemplated as satisfactory, the Basic as moderate performance, and the last one is inadequate performance in academics.

What are the main policies adopted by colleges in recent years?

According to the National Association for college admission counseling (NACAC), there are three main testing policies adopted by colleges while scrutinizing the applications for admission. They are as follows: –

  • Test-Optional: – After COVID-19, many colleges left the decision to the students to mention the scores of pssa in their applications. It is totally their wish to show it or not while applying for the college. They will not be penalized if they don’t.
  • Test-Flexible: – If a student doesn’t have any pssa score to show then, the college can ask him to show the scores of any other exam like SAT, ACT, etc., given by him.
  • Test-Blind: – A college will not look upon any of the scores of these state-standardized exams. It will admit you on other factors. The University of California is a good example of this.

What are major factors apart from exam scores that are considered for admission?

  • Students Grades
  • Course Rigor
  • Letter of Recommendation from teachers 
  • An additional task like Essays

     (In absence of any score on exams like SAT/ACT, etc., some colleges give   you an additional task to write an essay on a particular topic attached with the application of admission).

What is the importance of pssa or any such similar state exam?

  • These exams are necessary for evaluating the overall progress of students as well as teachers. A school can know how well its teachers are teaching their students and a teacher can know how well his students are performing. Also, the schools are classified as good or bad on district and state levels based on the test scores.
  • These scores are used while assessing the eligibility of a student for scholarships, which will waive off the tuition fees of the college. For example, in Massachusetts, the state standardized test scores (MCAS) decide the criteria for making a student eligible for the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship program.
  • These scores are taken into consideration when there’s a mismatch between a student’s grades and scores.
  • Some Honors colleges started awarding a Certificate of Distinction along with diplomas on the completion of the program, to the students who had performed well in PSSA exams. Some colleges mention it on the student transcripts (a detailed proforma of academic history with grades, courses completed, graduate or not) to show during a job interview.


Albeit the PSSA scores are not usually preferred by colleges to decide the eligibility criteria for admission, still they are a great source for parents and society to remain aware of their children’s academic performance. They are a deciding factor in choosing the subject stream in high school and college. Suppose, a student has scored well in Maths & Science but hasn’t scored well in Arts & literature then, he can choose to take Science as a subject for his higher studies.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) related to PSSA: –

Q1. Is it mandatory to give the pssa exam or can I opt-out of it?

You can opt-out of it only on the grounds of religious objections. There should be valid grounds for not giving the exam. Fear or anxiety will not be granted as a valid reason. Your parents must have to sign the request letter of opting-out, written by you. You have to pay a price in some cases in lieu of choosing this option.

Q2. What is the time duration of the pssa exam?

A test of each subject is of 1-hour duration. The recommended time limit is 55 minutes but students can take extra time of 5 minutes to complete the test. However, the duration has been reduced by governor Tom Wolf in one of his announcements in 2018.

Q3. Do employers look upon the pssa scores?

Usually, not because many organizations conduct their own test, in the form of a specific task or project, after the interview for the evaluation of the candidate’s knowledge. Employers look upon the overall personality, strengths, and knowledge in the area of study of a candidate. What you scored in your childhood is none of their business.