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What PSAT Score Do You Need for National Merit Scholarship?

Dec 30, 2021
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Around 1.6 million school students take the PSAT each year to get admission into the National Merit Scholarship Program. But what is an ideal PSAT national merit score? What PSAT score is national merit 2021? These are some of the questions that come across a student’s mind. This article will help you determine what PSAT score you need to qualify to earn a National Merit scholarship.

PSAT Score Needed for National Merit Scholarship

The National Merit Scholarship Program was set up in 1955. It is an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships. High school students in the United States apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Exam. The PSAT/NMSQT is a preliminary screening test for scholarships.

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What is a satisfactory PSAT score? The PSAT scoring scale is a bit complicated. Each of the three examinations (Reading, Writing & Language, and Math) will yield a score of 8 to 38. PSAT scores range from 160 to 760 for Evidence-Based Reading, Writing, and Math.

You will obtain subscores in addition to your total scores, which will give a more detailed analysis of your PSAT performance. The PSAT score also assigns a percentile value to your results. It lets you compare your results to those of other high school juniors who took the test. A student with a percentile of 63, for example, has outperformed 63 percent of students that year.

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PSAT Scoring Scale

There are seven sections to an official PSAT national merit score report.

1. Total Points (on a scale of 320-1520)
2. Reading and Writing Scores Based on Evidence (on a scale of 160-760)
3. Grade in Mathematics (on a scale of 160-760)
4. Subscores (on a scale of 1-15)
5. cross-test scores (on a scale of 8-38)
6. Selection Index by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation
7. Question-level Feedback

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What is a Good Score for the National Merit Scholarship?

The precise National Merit scholarship PSAT score consideration varies yearly and state to state. However, Semifinalists are consistently selected from the top 1% of students, about 16,000 juniors. Around 15,000 kids from this category go on to become National Merit Finalists. Roughly 8,000 of them win scholarship money. You must score in the top 1% of your state to be designated a Semifinalist.

So, what are the minimum requirements to qualify? You should first comprehend and understand the PSAT scoring scale to know this. On a scale of 320 to 1520, the PSAT scores are graded. Your score report will also provide you with your test results for the Math, Reading, Writing, and Language portions and the composite score. These numbers range from 8 to 38. These section test scores are the most relevant for National Merit eligibility.

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To calculate the PSAT National Merit Score, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation adds the scores from each section test and multiplies the total by two. Your PSAT Selection Index score determines your National Merit eligibility. For example, assume you get a 30 in Math, a 31 in Reading, and a 34 in Writing and Language. The total of these scores is 95. Then multiply that score by two to get your Selection Index Score: 190.

National Merit Semifinalists Selection Index Scores

We have produced a list of qualifying Selection Index scores for the National Merit Semifinalist by state. Here are the cut-offs of the last two years. You can easily catch the difference fluctuations in the scores. Students who took the PSAT in the autumn of 2020 were subject to these cut-offs.

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PSAT Cutoff scores for the class of 2021

StateSelection Index
Alabama212
Alaska208
Arizona218
Arkansas211
California221
Colorado217
Connecticut220
Delaware220
DC224
Florida217
Georgia219
Hawaii217
Idaho214
Illinois218
Indiana215
Iowa211
Kansas215
Kentucky212
Louisiana213
Maine211
Maryland224
Massachusetts221
Michigan217
Minnesota218
Mississippi213
Missouri214
Montana208
Nebraska210
Nevada214
New Hampshire214
New Jersey222
New Mexico210
New York220
North Carolina218
North Dakota207
Ohio215
Oklahoma210
Oregon220
Pennsylvania218
Rhode Island213
South Carolina213
South Dakota210
Tennessee215
Texas220
Utah212
Vermont211
Virginia221
Washington220
West Virginia207
Wisconsin214
Wyoming208
Average Score215

As you can see, qualifying marks differ based on where the test is taken. In addition, the National Merit Index Selection Cut-offs fluctuate by a few points yearly. So, you should aim for a score at least 2-5 points higher than the expected cut-off for your state.

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PSAT Cutoff scores for the class of 2021-2022

STATESCUT-OFF 2022
Alabama213
Alaska214
Arizona219
Arkansas213
California222
Colorado219
Connecticut220
Delaware220
District of Columbia222
Florida218
Georgia219
Hawaii218
Idaho214
Illinois219
Indiana216
Iowa214
Kansas216
Kentucky215
Louisiana213
Maine214
Maryland222
Massachusetts222
Michigan217
Minnesota218
Mississippi213
Missouri215
Montana212
Nebraska214
Nevada216
New Hampshire216
New Jersey222
New Mexico213
New York220
North Carolina218
North Dakota210
Ohio216
Oklahoma213
Oregon218
Pennsylvania218
Rhode Island217
South Carolina214
South Dakota211
Tennessee216
Texas220
Utah213
Vermont214
Virginia221
Washington221
West Virginia210
Wisconsin214
Wyoming211
US Students Studying Abroad223
Commended Student (National Score)210

Who are ‘Commended,’ ‘Finalists’ and ‘Semi finalists’?

Students who score well on the PSAT but are not chosen to progress to the National Merit Semifinals are called “Commended.” These children are not eligible for National Merit Scholarship. But, their PSAT scores are considered by the college admissions authorities.

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Here is a table containing the PSAT commended cut-off scores of the last 13 years:

Old PSATNew PSAT
Class of20082009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920202021
Commended SI Cutoff200200201201202200203201202209211212212209

“Semifinalists” are students who meet or exceed their state’s cut-off PSAT score. These students can compete against other Semifinalists for getting named a National Merit Finalist. This necessitates a letter of recommendation from their principal, excellent academic achievement throughout high school, good SAT scores, and a well-written essay. These students are ineligible for National Merit Awards. But, many schools and institutions give their scholarships to students who achieve this level of achievement.

Old PSATNew PSAT
Class of20082009201020112012201320142015201620172018201920202021
Semifinalist SI Cutoff209209208210211209211207209215216216216212

Only students who are “Finalists” are eligible for National Merit Scholarships. Although around 95% of Semifinalists progress to finalists, only roughly half of these finalists will be awarded an official scholarship.

Why should you take PSAT?

● The PSAT prepares you for SAT.
The PSAT is a nice way to prepare for the SAT. It comprises the same sorts of math, reading, and writing questions and problems as the SAT. However, it does not have an essay component. In the same way, as the SAT does, the PSAT compares your score to that of your peers around the country.

● The PSAT evaluates your eligibility for scholarships
Taking the PSAT provides you the opportunity to apply for various scholarship programs. The most prestigious of it is the National Merit Scholarship Program. Apart from the chance of obtaining college tuition, the National Merit Scholarship program provides you with a recognition that will look good on your college applications.

● The PSAT assists you in standing out in colleges
Many institutions buy students with good test scores and encourage them to apply. A high PSAT score may get you recognized by colleges and universities.

The PSAT/NMSQT test qualifies you for the National Merit Program in 2023. Scholarships will be available from the autumn of 2021 until the spring of 2023. Around 4 million students are anticipated to take the test.

Entry requirements for 2023 National Merit Program

A student must satisfy all of the following standards to be considered for the National Merit Program in 2023. A student must:

  1. Be enrolled as a high school student or homeschooled, making regular progress towards graduation by 2023, and intending to enroll in college before 2023.
  2. Attend high school in the District of Columbia, United States of America, or America’s commonwealths and territories or fulfill citizenship requirements.
  3. Take the 2021 PSAT/NMSQT in the chosen high school program year and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern.

Students attending high school outside the United States are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program in 2022-23. For being eligible, you must be a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident (or have applied for) in the United States of America or intend and expect to become a citizen of the United States at some point in the future at the earliest time permitted by law.

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