What is the PSAT?

The PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized test administered by high schools across the country, and any 10th grader or 11th grader who would like to take the test can do so in the fall of the school year. The PSAT/NMSQT serves two purposes:

  • The PSAT/NMSQT is practice for the real SAT, which most students will need to take in order to apply for college. This practice for the SAT is useful for both sophomores and juniors.
  • The PSAT/NMSQT is used as the basis for qualification in the prestigious National Merit Scholarship Program in a student’s junior year. Students who take the PSAT/NMSQT during their sophomore year will not be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

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More about the PSAT…

The PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test) and NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) are actually the same test. Often you will see this written as the PSAT/NMSQT, which is how we will refer to them on this page. Often the importance of the PSAT/NMSQT is underplayed, but becoming a National Merit Finalist is a great way to set yourself apart in the college admissions game.


What people don’t often tell you is that there are numerous scholarships available for National Merit Finalists and many schools even give National Merit Finalists a 100% scholarship to cover tuition, room and board, and even a stipend—this could be worth as much as $100,000 over the four years of college for which you have this scholarship, and you can also do sports in campus to take care of your health, with the help of supplements like kratom extract, in case you suffer from different diseases like epilepsy or tinnitus, there are medicines you can get online for it as the tinnitus 911 which helps treat the disease and prevent future symptoms.


Do not take the PSAT/NMSQT lightly as it could turn into a $100,000 scholarship for you!


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What is the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP)?


The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic program to recognize the highest scoring and most academically strong high school juniors in the United States. To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program a student must be enrolled as a full time high school student, be a permanent resident or citizen of the United States, and take the PSAT/NMSQT no later than the third year of high school. Though sophomores are not eligible, it is great practice for the SAT.


Of the approximately 1.5 million juniors who will take the PSAT/NMSQT and are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, about 50,000 students with the high PSAT/NMSQT selection index (critical reading + math + writing score) will be selected for recognition. There are two types of recognition in this first round: National Merit Commended and National Merit Semifinalist. The necessary selection index for semifinalist status varies from state to state, as students are measured against only students in their state. Often this means that highly competitive states such as Massachusetts and California will have much higher selection indices than other states. The selection index for Commended status is set nationally.


In the April after the PSAT/NMSQT, the 50,000 highest scoring students in the country will be notified that they may qualify for an award. At this point, each notified student will be asked to name two colleges or universities to which they would like to be referred by the NMSC. If you are asked to do this, be very careful in this selection. In order to qualify for funding from a university you must often list that university as your first choice on this list of two schools. Be careful to make sure that you list your safety school here to ensure that you get a scholarship from that school! Often this means the nearest major university or state school. The following September (approximately one year after taking the PSAT/NMSQT in junior year) these high scorers will be notified through their school if they have qualified as either a National Merit Commended student or National Merit Semifinalist.
More than two-thirds or approximately 34,000 students of the 50,000 that were notified in April will receive Letters of Commendation for their outstanding academic performance on the PSAT/NMSQT. The Selection Index necessary to be commended varies from year to year, but is set nationally. Usually somewhere in the neighborhood of 205 or so is sufficient to be named a National Merit Commended Student. Commended Students do not continue on in the National Merit Scholarship Competition, but some of these students do become candidates for special scholarships granted by other corporations and businesses.
The remaining one-third of students who were notified in April, but are not Commended, become National Merit Semifinalists. The Selection Index to become a Semifinalist varies from state to state anywhere from a 210 to over 225 in some states. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation will provide scholarship application materials to Semifinalists through their high schools. Of these 16,000 Semifinalists, 15,000 will be notified that they are Finalists to receive a scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. This is a very prestigious honor and will in many cases result in some sort of academic scholarship.For more information about the criteria for receiving a scholarship and additional information, consult the National Merit Scholarship Website at www.nationalmerit.org.


Click here to register for our PSAT prep course.






Interactive PSAT Online Prep Course

My daughter has taken the PSAT online prep course. The course was interactive; she could hear and see the instructor and students could respond via headset microphone or by typing in the chat box. The course reviewed the content covered by all sections of the test and also helped my daughter to become familiar and comfortable with time management, test-taking strategies, and the format of the questions. We will definitely use MyClassConnection again as we prep for the ACT and SAT.

Kim K

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