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PSAT- National Merit Scholarships and Semifinalist State Cutoff Scores

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Intro

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation conducts a nation-wide search for bright high school students every year. Those students who are lucky enough to become Semifinalists or Finalists find themselves with many new scholarship opportunities for college. In this hub, I will outline the National Merit process and discuss some excellent scholarship opportunities that are available.

national-merit

Step One: Entering the National Merit Competition

In order to begin competing for National Merit recognition, you must take the PSAT during the fall of your junior year of high school. All students who take the test and are eligible participants are automatically entered into the competition.

Step Two: Wait

After taking the PSAT, students will likely receive their scores likely a few weeks after taking the test. Unfortunately, the students have to wait nearly a full year to hear anything back from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The time frame is frustrating, but when September of the high school senior year comes, things begin to happen quickly.

Step Three: Semifinalist

In September, nearly two-thirds of the high scorers receive letters of commendation. They are commended students, and are now out of the competition. The other one-third of the highest scoring participants in each state are recognized as semifinalists. Depending on what state you live in, this cutoff score could be as low as 201 or as high as 225.

Step Four: Finalist

Once recognized as semifinalist, the students will be asked to submit academic and other information. Also, the semifinalists will be asked to take the SAT over the next few months in order to validate their PSAT score and prove that they deserve the recognition. Of the 16,000 or so semifinalists, approximately 15,000 will be chosen as finalists. The only students who do not move up to finalist rank are those who do not submit any information about themselves, do not have good grades, do not take the SAT, or fail to score well on the SAT.

The entire process extends from the beginning of your junior year all the way through your senior year of high school. Therefore, the fall PSAT scores of 2017 affect the scholarships of the graduating class of 2019.

Past Qualifying Scores

Your PSAT score can only help you up to the semifinalist ranking. But because nearly all semifinalists become finalists, the cutoff scores for advancing to semifinalist ranking can essentially be viewed as the same for advancing to finalist.

Below is a table showing some of the past PSAT cutoff scores to advance to semifinalist ranking.

StateClass of 2018 Cutoff ScoreClass of 2017 Cutoff ScoreClass of 2016 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2015 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2014 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2013 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2012 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2011 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2010 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2009 Cutoff ScoresClass of 2008 Cutoff Scores

Alabama

216

215

209

207

211

209

211

210

208

209

209

Alaska

217

213

206

210

212

204

212

214

211

212

213

Arizona

220

219

215

213

214

212

213

209

210

209

211

Arkansas

215

213

204

206

205

202

205

203

203

204

201

California

222

221

223

222

223

220

221

219

218

217

218

Colorado

220

218

215

213

215

212

215

212

213

213

213

Connecticut

221

220

220

220

221

218

220

219

218

218

217

Delaware

221

218

216

215

218

215

217

215

219

219

219

District of Columbia

223

222

225

224

224

221

223

223

221

221

223

Florida

219

217

214

211

214

211

214

210

211

211

212

Georgia

220

219

218

215

217

214

218

215

214

215

214

Hawaii

220

217

214

214

215

211

216

215

214

216

213

Idaho

216

214

208

211

211

207

211

208

209

208

204

Illinois

221

219

215

215

216

213

216

214

214

214

213

Indiana

219

217

213

212

215

211

214

212

211

213

213

Iowa

216

215

208

207

210

207

210

209

209

210

209

Kansas

219

217

213

213

216

212

214

211

211

211

212

Kentucky

217

215

210

210

211

208

212

208

209

209

208

Louisiana

216

214

211

208

209

209

209

210

207

208

206

Maine

215

214

211

212

215

210

212

213

213

212

211

Maryland

222

221

222

221

223

219

221

220

221

220

221

Massachusetts

222

222

223

223

224

221

223

223

221

221

223

Michigan

219

216

210

210

210

207

210

209

209

209

209

Minnesota

220

219

214

215

215

213

215

213

215

214

213

Mississippi

213

212

209

207

207

204

205

205

203

201

202

Missouri

217

216

209

209

213

210

213

210

211

213

211

Montana

214

210

204

206

207

203

209

208

204

208

207

Nebraska

215

215

209

209

209

207

209

210

207

206

207

Nevada

217

214

211

208

212

208

209

208

202

206

208

New Hampshire

217

216

213

212

214

211

216

214

213

211

215

New Jersey

223

222

225

224

224

221

223

221

221

220

221

New Mexico

215

213

208

210

210

208

210

206

208

209

208

New York

221

219

219

218

219

215

219

217

218

216

219

North Carolina

219

218

215

212

215

213

217

214

214

215

214

North Dakota

211

209

202

201

204

200

204

202

202

201

202

Ohio

219

217

215

213

215

212

214

212

211

213

211

Oklahoma

216

213

208

206

210

206

209

206

207

208

207

Oregon

220

219

215

217

218

213

216

215

213

213

213

Pennsylvania

219

218

217

216

217

214

215

216

214

213

214

Rhode Island

216

217

212

212

216

211

213

211

217

213

212

South Carolina

217

215

211

209

210

208

211

208

211

212

210

South Dakota

215

209

202

203

206

204

206

205

205

205

203

Tennessee

218

218

212

212

212

210

214

212

213

213

213

Texas

221

220

220

218

219

216

219

215

216

215

215

Utah

216

215

206

208

208

205

208

203

206

203

202

Vermont

217

215

214

213

217

214

217

212

213

213

216

Virginia

222

221

222

219

222

217

220

218

218

219

217

Washington

222

220

219

219

220

216

220

218

217

217

215

West Virginia

211

209

202

201

203

200

204

202

203

203

200

Wisconsin

217

215

208

208

210

207

209

209

207

210

208

Wyoming

213

209

202

204

203

200

204

202

201

201

200

International

223

222

225

224

224

221

223

223

221

221

223

US Territories

211

209

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

national-merit

Scholarship Opportunities

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards around 10,000 scholarships every year to the finalists. Some of these scholarships come directly from the corporation, but many come from sponsors of the program. Most of the scholarships are around $1500-$2500. However, many colleges will award their own scholarships to students who have received the rank of National Merit Finalist. Some of these college-sponsored scholarships can amount full tuition at certain colleges!

Comments

Victor on September 10, 2015:

When will this page be updated? Very informative. Thanks!

maddan9497 on June 08, 2015:

My son took the PSAT as a junior in October 2014, scoring 215. Your article above says in April following the test, 50,000 high scorers will be recognized. We are not aware of any such recognition, even though it is well past April. How is this recognition supposed to be communicated?

Keishia Lee Louis from Georgia, USA on May 24, 2015:

This is an excellent and useful article. You may want to consider refreshing it to reflect the changes in the SAT (and there for the PSAT). Thanks for sharing!

GINY MOM 2015 on October 14, 2014:

My daughter's score was 222 on the PSAT. NOT GOOD ENOUGH!! Our residency is NY (219) and her high school is in New Hampshire(219). She attends a boarding school (the "51st" state) and the cut off is 224!! I was more disappointed than her. She has a great attitude. WE know a 222 is a strong score/candidate. I HOPE the colleges recognize this too.

bigdogacb (author) from United States on March 06, 2014:

The most likely reasons for not advancing are simply not completing the required application and essay or having grades that do not meet their minimum requirement.

Doyourbest on December 14, 2013:

If your score is 99 percentile, what could go wrong not advancing you

to the finalist? Thank you.

Amie Butchko from Warwick, NY on December 13, 2013:

Very interesting. Looking ahead a bit, I will have some college-bound children which is deathly scary to me! It is good to know there are some ways that we can potentially supplement tuition!

sabrani44 on December 17, 2011:

This was a very informative hub. Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out for us.