Be a National Merit Scholar! Part IV – What Now?

PSATThe time has finally come. You’ve found out what your PSAT scores are. Did you score well enough to make the cut?

The truth is that PSAT cutoff scores vary from state to state and change from year to year, so you can’t be certain you made the cut until the fall, when the National Merit Scholarship Corporation officially notifies students of their National Merit status.

“What? A whole year! I can’t wait that long!”

Relax, it won’t actually be an entire year, but it will be at least nine or ten months. Most qualifying students will be notified of their status as a National Merit Semifinalist around September of their senior year. Before you give into despondent impatience, although the cutoff scores for each state vary from year to year, they are usually fairly consistent. If you found out what your PSAT score is yesterday, the first thing you should do is compare it to last year’s cutoff score.

“OK. It looks like I would have been a National Merit Semifinalist using last year’s cutoff. What now?”

Now nothing. Congratulations! Again, most states’ cutoff scores tend to be fairly consistent; if you scored above your state’s cut off score for last year, then you can be reasonably assured recognition as a National Merit Semifinalist, or at least a Commended Student. If you have scored well enough to be recognized as a Semifinalist, when you are officially notified next year, your high school guidance counselor will be sent an application for you to fill out. This application will determine whether you advance to Finalist status (you shouldn’t overly concern yourself with this; 15,000 of the 16,000 Semifinalists will go on to become Finalists).

If you just must learn more about how to Be a National Merit Scholar! please refer to these previous posts:

Be a National Merit Scholar! Part I – Qualifications and Overview

Be a National Merit Scholar! Part II – What Does it Take to be a Finalist?

Be a National Merit Scholar! Part III – Scholarship & Opportunities

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