UPDATE 2: We have added an additional estimate for Texas’ cutoff based on new data. You can find that post here.
UPDATE: Many commenters have asked about College Board’s Concordance Table. You can find an estimation that incorporates the Concordance Table here.
Now that PSAT scores have been received, the question that most people want answered revolves around the cutoff scores for National Merit Semifinalist standing. In other words: What is the minimum score that will qualify me to be a National Merit Semifinalist? This is certainly an immensely significant cutoff, mainly due to the benefits and scholarships that come with being a National Merit Scholar. The 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists from the class of 2017 will be notified sometime in September. As you eagerly await this announcement, here is some context for determining how close your score might be to the cutoff (and which side of it you may find yourself). These are the qualifying scores for each state from the past several years (note that each state is different):
(NOTE: The National Merit Scholarship Corporation will use your PSAT Selection Index Scores to determine your National Merit Semifinalist eligibility, NOT your PSAT Score. Learn more about this here! This is reflected in the estimated score ranges listed below. )
EDIT: Many people are asking why the estimated cutoff scores are lower than previous cutoff scores, and the answer is that the PSAT has changed. You can learn more about this here. Because the test has changed, previous years’ scores will not be particularly useful to you in making estimates regarding potential cutoff scores, but have been provided for context.
|State||Estimated Cutoff for Class of 2017 (PSAT taken in Oct 2015)||Class of 2016 (PSAT taken in Oct 2014)||Class of 2015 (PSAT taken in Oct 2013)|
|District of Columbia||211-215||225||224|
What do I make of these?
If you are a junior, these past cutoff scores can be helpful in gauging your chances of becoming a National Merit Semifinalist. However, be careful about drawing conclusions based solely on these, because the cutoffs can change unexpectedly from year to year.
If you are a sophomore, use these cutoff scores as a tool to determine how close you are to meeting your goals on the PSAT/NMSQT and what you need to do to improve between now and October. Keep in mind that the PSAT is one of the most important tests that you will take during high school, and unlike the SAT, you only have one shot to make it count. For something that can significantly influence your future, it is wise to spend time getting prepared.
An option that many people choose is professional test preparation. Testmasters was founded in 1991 and has become one of the largest and fastest-growing educational companies in the United States. Testmasters offers classroom courses, 1-on-1 courses, online courses, and books for standardized exams including the HSPT, ISEE Lower, Mid, and Upper Levels, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, PSAT/SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, and the EIT & PE Professional Engineering Exams in many states around the country. Since its inception, over 120,000 students have taken courses from Testmasters.
** For the class of 2017, please note that these are estimated National Merit Cutoffs. The cutoff for National Merit is based on scoring in the top ½% in the state: the better other students do on the PSAT in your state, the higher your state’s cutoff score will be. The official cutoff scores will not be announced until mid September of 2016. Until then, the above are good estimates and should give you some guidelines on your performance.