If you are a Junior in high school, you are eligible to qualify for National Merit Scholarships by receiving a high score on the PSAT which is taken in October. Your PSAT results are mailed by December.
Now, in order to qualify as a Junior, first, you need to be a U.S. citizen. Second, you need a high selectivity index score that lies within the 99th percentile range. Being awarded as a National Merit Scholar can only be done during your Junior year of high school.
If you get a high score on the PSAT, you may qualify as a commended student or a semifinalist. A total of 50,000 high scorers will receive letters of commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic performance. Commended Students are still below the level that is required to become a National Merit Semifinalist, so they cannot compete for National Merit Scholarships. But the good news is that they may become candidates for special scholarships that are offered by corporations and businesses.
Now, of the 50,000 commended qualifying students, approximately one-third, roughly 16,000 students will be notified that they have qualified as a Semifinalist. These are the highest scoring entrants in their state.
Only your PSAT score from your Junior year will be used to calculate your National Merit status. Don’t let this discourage you from taking the PSAT as a sophomore! In fact, it is only better practice to take it a year early so you know what to expect during your Junior year.
Becoming a National Merit Scholar is a very high honor. Such an achievement is quite appealing to most colleges. Becoming a National Merit Semifinalist, you will be given the opportunity to compete for National Merit Scholarships from either college or corporate sponsors.
It is a wonderful thing to accomplish and with our help, each of you are capable to strive for it!
If you are interested in more information about National Merit Scholarships, feel free to look here: http://www.nationalmerit.org/index.php