The National Merit Scholarship Program’s mission is “to promote wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular.”
Here are the national merit PSAT cutoff scores for 2018 to best help you succeed in receiving a National Merit Scholarship.
If you didn’t perform well on the PSAT, we highly recommend checking out our tutorials and resources, or signing up for our SAT prep course!
Commended Students, Semifinalists & Finalists
Let’s take a moment to discuss the differences between Commended Students, Semifinalists, & Finalists.
Commended students are recognized for their academic performance, but don’t advance forward in the National Merit Scholarships formal competition.
Semifinalists are the highest-scoring test-takers in each state. They then qualify to become Finalists by completing their NMSC application and showing that they meet all the required academic standards.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation provides the requirements at the same time students receive their Semifinalist status. Most of them are straightforward:
- A completed application
- An extremely solid academic record
- A letter of recommendation
- An essay
- A strong SAT score confirming PSAT performance
About 95% of National Merit Semifinalists become Finalists, so making that Semifinalist list is the biggest achievement that predicts Finalist success.
Commended and Semifinalist Students may receive “Special Scholarships” sponsored by external businesses and organizations. However, only Finalists receive official NMSC scholarships.
Of the roughly 15,000 Finalists, around 8,000 will receive Merit Scholarships and various awards.
Finalists are chosen statewide based on:
- A combination of skills
- The potential for success
- Academic achievement
The NMSC is very clear about this, stating that:
“All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (Merit Scholar designees) are chosen from the Finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments—without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.”
The scholarship opportunities that the winners receive are huge. The total number of scholarships is just shy of $35,000,000. That number breaks down to $4,500 per student selected.
Class of 2018 NMSC Semifinalist Predictions
The chart below highlights our predictions for the 2018 National Merit Semifinalists in each state.
These predictions are made based on a variety of Prep Expert metrics and analysis.
These Semifinalist scores offer the best prediction of success for an NMSC Scholarship. Roughly 50% of National Merit Finalists go on to receive a significant scholarship.
Please note that we have included PSAT scores (out of 1520) and all corresponding National Merit scores (out of 228) in our 2018 ranking analysis.
We’ll update this list when the actual scores are released in a few months!
|State||PSAT Score||NMSQT Equivalent|
Additional Program Information
If you want to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, you must:
- Take the official PSAT no later than in your junior year of high school.
- Be fully enrolled in high school with no issues and a normal path towards graduation (keep in mind this can involve being homeschooled).
- Be a United States citizen or have an application for residency in America with the intention of attaining permanent citizenship.
There are also ways for non-citizen students to start the application process. To learn more, please visit the NMSC’s website and browse the Scholarship Program qualifications.
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