I know that it's out of 240.. but what are the chances of qualifying for the scholarship? What is the minimum score you would need to get on the test to be qualified? Does your GPA factor into the result? Are my results going to be matched up to my school or my district or my county?
My school is kind of different.. everybody takes the PSAT in sophomore year. I don't even know if we take it again in junior year... by then everybody is too busy studying for the SAT anyway. So I really think this year's results really count.
First, you can ONLY qualify for National Merit your junior year. The PSAT was actually made for juniors, but a lot of school districts have started having the sophomores take it for extra practice—without actually explaining to them that its function as the NMSQT only applies to juniors! (My school did this!)
Second, the PSAT only qualifies you as a Semifinalist. After that, you have to fill out a packet of paperwork to qualify for “Finalist” standing—the information you give includes GPA, high school transcript, one recommendation, and a student-written essay; you also have to submit scores from the real SAT. BUT, 95% of Semifinalists become Finalists—those who don’t are usually (I think) only those who fill out the paperwork wrong (or perhaps if you absolutely bombed the SAT, or a few other things)! From Finalist standing, it becomes a bit iffy: only about 8200 of the (about) 15000 Finalist become “National Merit Scholars”. To go from Finalist standing to being a Scholar, they do look at GPA, what you took in high school, your recommendations, your essay, and so on-- but I think one of the most important parts is your SAT score. NMSC’s website: http://www.nationalmerit.org/nmsp.php... .
That site will tell you your chances: “Of the 1.4 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.” THEN “In early September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists.”
Third: the cutoffs for “Semifinalist” change from year to year, and are different in each state (because it’s the highest X% [I don’t remember—.5%?] in each state). You can see some of the recent years’ cutoffs in different states here: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/show... and here http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/show... . (Those used to be posted [and were copied and pasted from] here: http://hseagle.sas.edu.sg/hscounseling/t... , but they no longer post them there because of copyright issues.) You might find other years’ cutoffs on talk.collegeconfidential.com, since they try to compile them each year, but those were the ones I found first and they’ll give you an idea of what you need to aim for!
“Semifinalist” designation (from PSAT score cutoffs) are determined on a state-to-state basis. I’m pretty sure after that it’s a national thing, so all the Finalists are in the same pool (I can’t remember, and I can’t tell—it’s a pain in the rear to find any definitive, USEFUL information on NMSCs website, and I have tried!).
Good luck! If you have any more questions about National Merit, I’d be happy to try to answer them! I spent my whole senior year a bit confused about all of it, lol!
you are measured against the whole country.
your GPA does not get involved - i'm fairly sure it's test scores only
Actually, you take it again during your junior year. It might be that you have to pay for the test then (like we do at our school). And you qualify based on junior year results.
To qualify to become a National Merit Semifinalist, you have to get a certain score or higher (this varies by state, but your state's cutoff will be somewhere in the 200-224 range). Your GPA doesn't factor into the cutoff. If you become a semifinalist, then you have to submit materials like a transcript, recommendations, etc. Finalists are selected from the semifinalists, and about half of the finalists receive National merit Scholarships.
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