Have You Heard of the National Merit Scholarships? Check it out!

Have you been searching for scholarships and financial aid to help you navigate the financial hurdles related to College? Knowing about different scholarships will help save you from the heartbreak of dropping out of school due to economic challenges. Guess what? It would be best if you learned more about the National Merit Scholarships.

The National Merit Scholarships is a distinguished competition that stands as a beacon for exceptional high school students across the United States. It is a way of celebrating their outstanding achievements and providing them with invaluable financial aid. 

Now, let’s walk you through all the essential details of the National Merit Scholarship in this post below!

What Is the National Merit Scholarships Program?

National Merit Scholarship is a national academic competition for high school students. The goal is to enable students to win scholarships to help pay for their college education. Furthermore, the National Merit Scholarships Corporation (NMSC) is in complete control of managing this scholarship program. 

Also, students who performed exceptionally well on the PSAT are eligible for the National Merit program. The test’s full name is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/NMSQT for short. 

Please don’t take the PSAT 10, an alternative that won’t count for the National Merit Scholarship, but you should take the official PSAT/NMSQT.

Upon receiving their PSAT scores, high scorers may be designated by the NMSC as Commended Students, Semifinalists, or (after an additional application) Finalists. From the Finalists, around 7,500 students are selected to become scholarship winners.

About National Merit Scholarship Program

The National Merit Scholarship was established in 1955, and it is an independent, nonprofit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to NMSC are tax deductible by the donor. You can find that here.

Also, the NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program, an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. 

Additionally, from 1965 to 2015, NMSC conducted the National Achievement® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for Black American high school students. 

Types of National Merit Scholarship Award 

Wait a minute,  are there different types of National Merit Scholarships?! Indeed, there are! We know this is a lot of information, but you need to understand how you might get extra cash to help pay for college. Not to worry … we’ll walk you through this.

Four types of National Merit Scholarships total 8,500 yearly scholarships:

1•   National Merit $2,500 Scholarship is a one-time scholarship awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to exceptional students who meet all eligibility requirements.

2•   National Merit Special Scholarships These are the one-time OR extendable scholarships awarded by private corporations and businesses to exceptional students who did not become finalists for the $2,500 Scholarship

3•   Corporate-Sponsored National Merit Scholarships: These are one-time or extendable scholarships made available by private corporations and businesses. It is generally for employees’ kids. Put your parents to work so they can find out if they work somewhere that awards these scholarships!

4•   College-Sponsored National Merit Scholarships: multi-year/renewable scholarships awarded by colleges and universities to students who will attend their school

How Do They Calculate the National Merit Scholarship Score?

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) uses a unique score called the Selection Index to determine National Merit eligibility. The Selection Index is calculated by doubling the total of your Reading, Writing, Language, as well as your Math Test Scores. 

Now, let’s say, for example, that if a student received scores of 34, 35, and 36, their Selection Index would be (34+35+36)x2 = 210. 48 to 228 is the range of the Selection Index. You are more likely to be selected as a National Merit Scholar if your Selection Index is higher. 

The 2023–2024 scholarship cycle’s national cutoff score was 207. This indicates that PSAT/NMSQT students scoring 207 or higher were qualified to advance to the National Merit Semifinalist stage.

Note that each state has a different cutoff score for semifinalists. This is so that each state’s number of semifinalists can be determined by the number of high school seniors in that state. States with more seniors in high school have higher cutoff scores.

When choosing National Merit Scholars, the NMSC considers several additional variables in addition to the Selection Index, including letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and academic performance.

How to Apply for National Merit Scholarship Program 

The application process for the National Merit Scholarship Program 2023 to 2024 is as follows:

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT® in October of your junior year of high school 
  • Score in the top 50,000 nationally to become a National Merit Semifinalist 
  • Complete the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) Online Scholarship Application (OSA) by February 1 of your senior year 
  • Take the SAT® or ACT® and earn scores that confirm your PSAT/NMSQT® performance 
  • Be endorsed and recommended by your high school principal 
  • Be notified of your Finalist standing in April of your senior year 
  • Submit the Finalist Scholarship Application by June 1 of your senior year.

Follow the procedures above to apply for the 2024 National Merit Scholarship US.

Tips On How to Improve Your Chances of Getting a High Selection In PSAT/NMSQT

Getting a high selection in PSAT/NMSQT is possible. Follow these tips to improve your chances:

Take a Practice Test 

A practice test helps you become conversant with the test format and questions. It enables you to try out the past participant’s questions and see how far you can go with them. Check out the internet for the practice tests, or if you can visit nearby libraries, do so.

Find Out Your Strength and Weakness 

After you’ve taken the practice tests as discussed above, check your strengths and weaknesses to ascertain where you need improvement. Concentrate more on those areas you didn’t perform well and improve on. 

Get a Tutor or Search for a study Community and Join 

Finding a study guide community or a tutor is a very effective tip for improving your chances of getting a high selection in the PSAT/NMSQT. Getting an expert tutor will help you because the teacher will teach you everything you need to know. Also, belonging to a community or group will allow you to associate with other participants and share views.

Create a Study Schedule And Stick To It

The earlier you start studying, the more time you will have to improve your scores. Create a study schedule that won’t interfere with your other activities, and stick to it. Take your studies seriously. We’ll also recommend books you should use as we proceed.

Manage your time wisely

The PSAT is a timed test, so it is essential to learn how to manage your time effectively. Practice answering questions under timed conditions so you can get used to the pace of the test.

Finally, this focuses more on the critical reading and math sections. These sections are worth the most points on the PSAT, so it is essential to focus your studying on these areas.

National Merit Scholarship Program Eligibility 

If you’re a student who is interested in the National Merit Scholarship, take a look at the following eligibility and requirements:

Students must take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12. This generally means that students should take the test during the fall of junior year.

All the participants must be enrolled as full-time high school students (traditional or homeschooled), be in good academic standing, and plan to accept admission to college during the fall following high school completion.

The Eligible students must attend high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. Commonwealth and Territory or be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States attending high school abroad.

The qualifying score for the 2023-2024 scholarship cycle was 207. This means that students who scored at or above 207 on the PSAT/NMSQT were eligible to become National Merit Semifinalists. Have that in mind and prepare for the 2024-2025 test.

Furthermore, students must also fulfill specific academic criteria and receive the required score. State-by-state variations in these criteria can be found, although they usually include a minimum GPA and a set number of college preparatory courses.

After being chosen as National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, participants must apply to NMSC. The student’s academic history, other extracurricular endeavors, and personal essays are all listed in this application.

In addition, the following step is for NMSC to choose about 7,500 candidates to become National Merit Finalists. These students are qualified for scholarships from NMSC or business sponsors.

Academic accomplishment can be honored and rewarded through the National Merit Scholarship Program. We urge all high school students to take the PSAT/NMSQT to be deemed fit for this outstanding award.

Once you’ve taken the PSAT, the NMSC calculates your overall score. They compute selection index scores to evaluate PSAT scores each year. These selection index scores vary by state.

Which Books are Good for PSAT?

To qualify for the SAT and the Nation Merit scholarships in the US, you need to plan and pass your PSAT. You cannot pass the PSAT without preparing very well. So, while preparing for this, below are books you should consider:

  • Barron’s PSAT/NMSQT
  • The Official SAT Study Guide 
  • Khan Academy
  • Kaplan PSAT/NMSQT Prep 
  • Princeton Review PSAT/NMSQT

Also, note that the above list contains not only books but a platform that helps students study and provides materials to enable them to pass the scholarship test.

Minimum Scores Needed for National Merit Scholarship

The average cutoff score is approximately 215, but if you live in Wyoming or Montana, you might qualify with a lower score. In contrast, if you live in areas like Massachusetts, New Jersey, or D.C., you will likely need a higher score. 

In general, your chances of becoming a Semifinalist are greatly improved by scoring 4-5 points above the average cutoff score for your state.

Wrapping Up on National Merit Scholarship

Finally, the National Merit Scholarship is only one of many merit scholarships students can win in college applications, but it is among the most prestigious. 

Furthermore, in addition to the status of becoming a National Merit Scholarship winner, there are various additional benefits to participating in the National Merit program. 

Additionally, reaching the status of National Merit Commended Scholar or Semifinalist is a strong indicator of your academic excellence to include in your application. 

It may enable you to apply for Special Scholarships. If you’re interested in this scholarship, consider all the details above. Good luck. You can visit for more scholarship updates.

Important Reads:

Are you looking for a scholarship that focuses on people with disabilities? Read Bambino Scholarship: Help for Students with Disabilities.

If you want to pursue a medical career but lack finances, check out the Dr. Anthony J. Pecorale Memorial Scholarship.

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Still confused about how to dress for the immigration interview? You must read this: 6 Tips On How To Dress for an immigration interview.

Are you looking to immigrate to Canada as a geological engineer? Read: 3 Best Ways to Immigrate to Canada as a Geological Engineer in 2023.

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