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.

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.

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

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.

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.

PSAT Cutoff scores for the class of 2021

State Selection Index
Alabama 212
Alaska 208
Arizona 218
Arkansas 211
California 221
Colorado 217
Connecticut 220
Delaware 220
DC 224
Florida 217
Georgia 219
Hawaii 217
Idaho 214
Illinois 218
Indiana 215
Iowa 211
Kansas 215
Kentucky 212
Louisiana 213
Maine 211
Maryland 224
Massachusetts 221
Michigan 217
Minnesota 218
Mississippi 213
Missouri 214
Montana 208
Nebraska 210
Nevada 214
New Hampshire 214
New Jersey 222
New Mexico 210
New York 220
North Carolina 218
North Dakota 207
Ohio 215
Oklahoma 210
Oregon 220
Pennsylvania 218
Rhode Island 213
South Carolina 213
South Dakota 210
Tennessee 215
Texas 220
Utah 212
Vermont 211
Virginia 221
Washington 220
West Virginia 207
Wisconsin 214
Wyoming 208
Average Score 215

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.

PSAT Cutoff scores for the class of 2021-2022

STATES CUT-OFF 2022
Alabama 213
Alaska 214
Arizona 219
Arkansas 213
California 222
Colorado 219
Connecticut 220
Delaware 220
District of Columbia 222
Florida 218
Georgia 219
Hawaii 218
Idaho 214
Illinois 219
Indiana 216
Iowa 214
Kansas 216
Kentucky 215
Louisiana 213
Maine 214
Maryland 222
Massachusetts 222
Michigan 217
Minnesota 218
Mississippi 213
Missouri 215
Montana 212
Nebraska 214
Nevada 216
New Hampshire 216
New Jersey 222
New Mexico 213
New York 220
North Carolina 218
North Dakota 210
Ohio 216
Oklahoma 213
Oregon 218
Pennsylvania 218
Rhode Island 217
South Carolina 214
South Dakota 211
Tennessee 216
Texas 220
Utah 213
Vermont 214
Virginia 221
Washington 221
West Virginia 210
Wisconsin 214
Wyoming 211
US Students Studying Abroad 223
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.

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

Old PSAT New PSAT
Class of 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Commended SI Cutoff 200 200 201 201 202 200 203 201 202 209 211 212 212 209

“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 PSAT New PSAT
Class of 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Semifinalist SI Cutoff 209 209 208 210 211 209 211 207 209 215 216 216 216 212

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.