The National Merit Scholarship Program is run by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, boasting a mission “to promote a wider and deeper respect for learning in general and for exceptionally talented individuals in particular.”
Standardized tests are a major component of getting into college and pursuing your dreams. We will provide you with the information of the national merit PSAT cutoff scores for 2018 to best help you succeed.
Success on the PSAT is also a great indicator of success on the SAT. If you don’t think you performed well on the PSAT, we highly recommend checking out more of our tutorials and resources, or signing up for one of our SAT prep course!
Commended Students, Semifinalists & Finalists
Let’s take a moment to discuss the differences between Commended Students, Semifinalists, & Finalists.
The difference between commended students and semifinalists is straightforward enough: commended students are recognized on their academic performance, but do not advance in the formal competition for National Merit Scholarships — that is, scholarships officially given out by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
Semifinalists, on the other hand, constitute a smaller group than Commended Students (about 15,000 students instead of 35,000), resulting in the highest-scoring test-takers in each state. These Semifinalist Students are then qualified to become Finalists by completing their application to the NMSC by showing that they meet all academic standards required by the organization.
This required information is provided by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at the same time students are notified of their Semifinalist status. Most of it is fairly straightforward; a full, completed application, an extremely solid academic record, a letter of recommendation, an essay, and taking SAT with a similarly strong score thus confirming PSAT performance.
Typically, about 95% of students who are National Merit Semifinalists go on to become Finalists, so making that Semifinalist list is really the biggest achievement that very often predicts Finalist success. While Commended and Semifinalist Students may still receive “Special Scholarships” sponsored by external businesses and organizations, only Finalists receive official NMSC scholarships.
Of the roughly 15,000 Finalists, around 8,000 will receive Merit Scholarships and various awards.
These Finalists are chosen statewide based on a combination of skills, the potential for success, and above all, academic achievement.
The NMSC is very poignant about this as well, 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.” This is an important note for those of you competing for these awards; it’s something I paid a lot of close attention to when I was preparing for my PSAT!
The scholarship opportunities that the winning group of students receive is substantial. The total number of scholarships is just shy of $35,000,000, which is around $4,500 per student selected, and comprise less than 1% of the total group of students who took the PSAT.
Class of 2018 NMSC Semifinalist Predictions
The chart below highlights our predictions for 2018 National Merit Semifinalists in each state.
These predictions are made based on a variety of Prep Expert metrics and analysis.
These Semifinalist scores are important because they offer the best prediction of success for an NMSC Scholarship. Roughly 50% of students who are National Merit Finalists go on to achieve a significant scholarship from the Corporation.
Please note that we have included both PSAT scores (out of 1520) as well all corresponding National Merit scores (out of 228) in our 2018 ranking analysis.
For a complete list of final results, we’ll update this when the actual scores are released in a few months!
|State||PSAT Score||NMSQT Equivalent|
Additional Program Information
If you’ve yet to take the PSAT and want to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, remember that in order to do so, 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 citizen of the United States or have an application for residence in America with the intention towards attaining permanent citizenship.
There are also ways for students who are not citizens of the US to start the application process. For these students, please visit the NMSC’s website and browse the qualifications for the Scholarship Program.
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