LIVE MASTERCLASS: 7 Strategies For Parents To Help Your Child Earn $100,000 College Scholarships & Ace The New 2024 Digital SAT. Enroll Free!

National Merit PSAT Cutoff Scores: Class Of 2018

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!

PSAT cutoff scores


Commended Students, Semifinalists & Finalists

Let’s take a moment to discuss the differences between Commended Students, Semifinalists, & Finalists.

Commended Students

Commended students are recognized for their academic performance, but don’t advance forward in the National Merit Scholarships formal competition.

Semifinalist Students

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

Finalist Students

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.


Scholarship Awards

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
Alabama 1390 210
Alaska 1400 211
Arizona 1430 216
Arkansas 1380 208
California 1470 222
Colorado 1420 214
Connecticut 1450 219
Delaware 1430 215
Washington DC 1470 221
Florida 1420 213
Georgia 1450 219
Hawaii 1430 215
Idaho 1390 209
Illinois 1430 216
Indiana 1430 215
Iowa 1390 210
Kansas 1390 210
Kentucky 1410 212
Louisiana 1390 209
Maine 1420 214
Maryland 1470 222
Massachusetts 1480 223
Michigan 1420 214
Minnesota 1410 212
Mississippi 1390 210
Missouri 1400 211
Montana 1350 205
Nebraska 1390 209
Nevada 1390 210
New Hampshire 1430 215
New Jersey 1460 220
New Mexico 1430 215
New York 1450 218
North Carolina 1450 218
North Dakota 1350 205
Ohio 1420 214
Oklahoma 1390 210
Oregon 1450 218
Pennsylvania 1440 217
Rhode Island 1430 215
South Carolina 1390 210
South Dakota 1350 204
Tennessee 1430 215
Texas 1450 218
Utah 1410 212
Vermont 1410 213
Virginia 1460 220
Washington 1450 219
West Virginia 1350 205
Wisconsin 1410 212
Wyoming 1340 204


Additional Program Information

If you want to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, you must:

  1. Take the official PSAT no later than in your junior year of high school.
  2. Be fully enrolled in high school with no issues and a normal path towards graduation (keep in mind this can involve being homeschooled).
  3. 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.

More articles that might interest you:

Are you interested in improving your test-taking abilities? Check out all our SAT and ACT prep offerings as well as any other articles for additional assistance or give us a call at (877) 345-7737.

For more test strategy, college admissions, and scholarship application tips sign up for our FREE class happening right now!

Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
More from Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA