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Below are frequently asked questions about the National Merit Scholarship Program. For up-to-date information on actual and proposed exam schedule cutoffs, visit our National Eligibility Semifinal Cutoffs page.
NMSP is a program administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in partnership with the College Board to recognize high school seniors. Some levels of accreditation are based entirely on high school PSAT/NMSQT scores, while other levels have additional qualifications (described below). NMSC awards approximately $50 million in scholarships each year, and some colleges offer reduced or free tuition to approved students, multiplying the net impact of national meritocracy.
National Merit Scholarship Colleges
You must take the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior and attend a high school in the United States or a US territory or be a US student studying abroad. On your PSAT score report, you’ll see your test sections and schedule and how you answered questions about your admissions eligibility. If there is an asterisk next to your exam schedule, it means NMSC believes you are ineligible.
Psat National Merit Faq
Every year students miss the PSAT for legitimate reasons such as illness. To give those students a chance to compete on National Merit, NMSC has a process known as Alternate Entry. Due to the pandemic, NMSC has adopted a non-recourse policy for alternative entry for the class of 2022. Students can apply directly to NMSC and be considered based on their SAT scores.
The test table is a weighting of your PSAT component scores to determine your acceptance rate in the initial stages of the National Qualification Program.
The test score is twice the sum of your reading, writing, and language and math scores. For example, a student with a score of 34, 35, and 36 will have an exam code of (34+35+36)x2 = 210. Most students remember the part (160–760) more than the test score 8–38. . Calculating election codes is even easier. First, ignore the trailing zeros in your score; Double your ERW score; Then add your math score. For example, a student with an ERW score of 690 and a Mathematics score of 720 will have an exam code of (69)x2 + 72 = 210. Both methods are always used because of the consistent relationship between exam marks and section marks. Exam marks cannot be calculated directly from the total marks (320-1520). For students who enter the competition with SAT scores through alternative entry, please note that – when calculating test scores – each SAT section counts as 760. For example, if you have 700 ERW and 800 Math, your exam table is (70)x2 + 76 = 216.
Emphasis on “verbal” skills has a long history with NMSP. Although there is no written section on the PSAT or SAT, for the 60-240 test schedule range, the verbal section is doubled and added to the math score. Also, the College Board treats reading and writing and language as separate tests.. In short, “double-dipping” is nothing new.
National Merit Scholarship: Psat/nmsqt
Although Compass Prediction can be used to estimate whether you qualify as an Honorable Mention or Semifinalist, high schools have no way of knowing your official status until you are notified by NMSC in early September of your senior year (and sometimes the school asks). end of August). Compass has released the cutoff for the class of 2021. The recommended cutoff for the upcoming class is unofficially known in April after the PSAT. Compass will report this score and how it may affect the semi-final cutoffs in our regularly updated cutoffs post. NMSC does not release state cutoffs publicly, so Compass provides this information to students. For the Class of 2022, the semifinalist cutoff can only be assessed until September 2021.
Although approximately 1% of test-takers become semi-finalists, there are several reasons why percentage scores are more accurate to determine eligibility, especially since cut-offs differ dramatically from state to state. A compass prediction is a good approximation, but it’s only an approximation.
Although Distinguished Scholars are awarded based on a national cutoff, NMSC distributes semifinalists proportionally to states (and the District of Columbia and US territories) based on the number of students graduating from that state. California, for example, sees about 2,100 semifinalists each year—the most in the nation. It receives 13% of the semifinalists because it produces about 13% of high school graduates. Mississippi, on the other hand, typically sees 135 National Merit semifinalists because the state produces 0.8% of U.S. graduates. This distribution has nothing to do with the number of students taking the PSAT in the state.
Two things that affect the cut are participation rates and demographics. In some states, the ACT is the dominant test and many students do not take the PSAT. This will throw some students out of the competition and make lower cutoffs. Some states have pockets of well-qualified and particularly competitive students. For example, the Massachusetts and New Jersey cutoff for 2021 is 222. At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming have a NMSF cutoff of 209 for the Class of 2021. A state with a minimum semi-final cutoff is a nationally recognized level. For example, if the recommended cutoff is 210, no state can have a semi-final cutoff below 210.
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Homeschoolers are not treated any differently than other students in a state. American students studying abroad must meet the country’s highest cutoff. For the class of 2021, it is 222. Calculating the boarding school cutoff is a bit complicated. Rather than being organized at the country level, they are determined regionally. A boarding school student in the Northeast, for example, will have the highest cutoff of any state in the Northeast region. NMSC defines a boarding school as a school with mainly out-of-state students. NMSC considers your state to be where you were in school when you took the PSAT, not the state of residence or the state of your new school.
NMSC has made this part of the process easier to understand than in the past. High school students in the US or US territories are eligible. era Study abroad students are eligible as long as they are US citizens or lawful permanent residents of the US (“green card”) or have applied for permanent residency and their application has not been denied. The earliest opportunity permitted by law.
NMSC sends information to schools in late August. Some schools notify students of their status in early September. NMSC is waiting for many schools to officially release the names of students to the press in the second week of September. Compass keeps track of all the latest news on our semifinalist cutoff page.
While semifinal status is a great honor to list on your resume, you shouldn’t expect it to have a significant impact on your chances of admission to most colleges. Accreditation tells the college that you did well on the PSAT. Your SAT and ACT scores are very important to colleges; Your national eligibility status does not add new information. However, having a large number of registered semi-finalists is considered a badge of honor at some universities and is taken into account in their admissions decisions. Some colleges have programs specifically designed to attract National Merit finalists and offer substantial merit awards.
National Merit Scholarship Corporation
What happens after I make it to the semifinals? Semi-finalists will receive login credentials for the final application portal. You must provide background information with the essay. Your school must provide recommendations and submit your application electronically by the second week of October.
NMSC may change the prompt in future years, but it remains the same for many years. Most students should be able to use their Common Application essay or modify it slightly. For the Class of 2022, instructions:
“To help the examiner understand you, describe an experience you had, a person who influenced you, or an obstacle you overcame. Explain why this made sense to you. Use your own words and limit your answer to the space provided.
There is no word limit, but the essay must fit in the space provided (approximately 3500 characters). Expect to keep your essay to 600 – 650 words.
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Among the requirements to proceed from the semi-final to the final, you will receive a “confirming score”. On the official SAT or ACT test date, these scores help you verify that you can get a high score and ensure your test-taking ability.
Confirmation scores are determined by NMSC each year and are calculated in the same manner as PSAT test scores. Confirmation scores are set nationally, so it doesn’t matter which semifinal you meet. Confirmatory SAT Score Index (SSI) is usually at or near the recommended cutoff.
The easiest calculation of SSI is from your section marks. Double one zero
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