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Last Updated: March 09, 2022

PSAT Score and National Merit Scholarship

PSAT is an examination taken by school-going students as a prelude to estimate their future SAT scores and also to get an understanding of the examination. Though this examination is taken to gain experience about the SAT examination, it is mostly opted for by candidates who wish to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. It is due to this that the PSAT is also known as NMSQT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

The National Merit Scholarship is provided as an academic competition to recognize educational merit in students through the PSAT test. Students who are preparing to achieve this scholarship will have to score among the top 1% of the test-takers to be a semi-finalist within the competition. After this, they will be chosen as a finalist only by comparing their school grades, SAT/ACT scores, self-written essays, etc. Since the PSAT is an examination that can be applied to only the respective high schools of candidates, students must contact their counselor if they wish to take the examination.

National Merit Scholarship Process

The National Merit scholarship is provided as part of the National Merit Scholarship Program to around 15,000 students every year. The PSAT test is the qualifying examination for this for the first round of the scholarship. But even though PSAT is the qualifying test, candidates must take the PSAT/NMSQT since the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 are not considered to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship.

Eligibility for National Merit scholarship

The only two requirements for being eligible for the National Merit Scholarship are that:
  1. the candidate must be a US citizen and
  2. the candidate must have taken the PSAT/NMSQT examination.
Students are required to take the examination in their junior year. The student must be enrolled as a high school student irrespective of whether they are traditionally schooled or home-schooled.

Students who have taken the PSAT as sophomores will have to take the test again when they are juniors if they wish to enter the scholarship program.

Qualifying PSAT Scores for NMSQT

The qualifying scores for the NMSQT is dependent on the state in which the student resides and the year in which they are taking the test. 50,000 of the test takers who are the highest scorers qualify for the program out of which around 16,000 candidates are chosen as the semi-finalists. These other students who do not make it to the semi-finalist round will be tagged commendable students and they will be eligible for Special Scholarships. The Selection Index cut-offs for the years 2022 and 2021 are as follows-
StateCut-Off for 2022Cut-Off for 2021
Alabama212 212
Alaska208212
Arizona218218
Arkansas211212
California221221
Colorado217217
Connecticut220220
Delaware220219
District of Columbia224222
Florida217216
Georgia219219
Hawaii217217
Idaho214214
Illinois218219
Indiana215215
Iowa211212
Kansas215214
Kentucky212214
Louisiana213212
Maine211213
Maryland224221
Massachusetts221222
Michigan217216
Minnesota218218
Mississippi213211
Missouri214214
Montana208210
Nebraska210213
Nevada214215
New Hampshire214215
New Jersey222222
New Mexico210211
New York220220
North Carolina218217
Ohio215215
Oklahoma210211
Oregon220217
Pennsylvania218217
Rhode Island213216
South Carolina213212
South Dakota210209
Tennessee215215
Texas220219
Utah212212
Vermont211212
Virginia221221
Washington220220
West Virginia207209
Wisconsin214213
Wyoming208209
US Territories207209
Since the cut-offs of previous years act as estimates for future examinations, it is ideal for candidates to expect the score to increase by 2 or 4 points in the upcoming examination. International students who wish to qualify for the scholarship will have to get adhere to the highest cut-off score among all states.

Scoring in the 99th Percentile for PSAT/NMSQT

Students who wish to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship will have to score in the top tier of the 99th percentile considering how only a few people get the scholarship. To get a high Selection Score Index, candidates will have to prepare in advance for the PSAT.

Candidates will have to learn about the approximate state cut-off initially if they need to estimate the score they will require to qualify for the scholarship. Since the score varies from year to year it is ideal for candidates to aim higher than the previous year's state cut-off. Having a target score will allow candidates to understand how much time they will have to spend preparing for the examination.

Now, candidates will be able to study the test content by using test guides or test apps. They will also be able to enroll in courses to crack the examination. Practicing for the test by attempting full-length test papers and official test papers that are easily available will be an easy way of preparing oneself for the examination.

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