What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit?

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. As mentioned before here, the 16,000 National Merit Semifinalists from the class of 2013 will be notified sometime in August/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):

Class of 2012 Cutoff Scores

Alabama 211
Alaska 212
Arizona 213
Arkansas 205
California 221
Colorado 215
Connecticut 220
Delaware 217
District of Columbia 223
Florida 214
Georgia 218
Hawaii 216
Idaho 211
Illinois 216
Indiana 214
Iowa 210
Kansas 214
Kentucky 212
Louisiana 209
Maine 212
Maryland 221
Massachusetts 223
Michigan 210
Minnesota 215
Mississippi 205
Missouri 213
Montana 209
Nebraska 209
Nevada 209
New Hampshire 216
New Jersey 223
New Mexico 210
New York 219
North Carolina 217
North Dakota 204
Ohio 214
Oklahoma 209
Oregon 216
Pennsylvania 215
Rhode Island 213
South Carolina 211
South Dakota 206
Tennessee 214
Texas 219
Utah 208
Vermont 217
Virginia 220
Washington 220
West Virginia 204
Wisconsin 209
Wyoming 204
Commended 202
International 223
New England Boarding Schools 223


Class of 2011 Cutoff Scores

Alabama 210
Alaska 214
Arizona 209
Arkansas 203
California 219
Colorado 212
Connecticut 219
Delaware 215
District of Columbia 223
Florida 210
Georgia 215
Hawaii 215
Idaho 208
Illinois 214
Indiana 212
Iowa 209
Kansas 211
Kentucky 208
Louisiana 210
Maine 213
Maryland 220
Massachusetts 223
Michigan 209
Minnesota 213
Mississippi 205
Missouri 210
Montana 208
Nebraska 210
Nevada 208
New Hampshire 214
New Jersey 221
New Mexico 206
New York 217
North Carolina 214
North Dakota 202
Ohio 212
Oklahoma 206
Oregon 215
Pennsylvania 216
Rhode Island 211
South Carolina 208
South Dakota 205
Tennessee 212
Texas 215
Utah 203
Vermont 212
Virginia 218
Washington 218
West Virginia 202
Wisconsin 209
Wyoming 202
Commended 201
International 223
New England Boarding Schools 223


Class of 2010 Cutoff Scores

Alabama 208
Alaska 211
Arizona 210
Arkansas 203
California 218
Colorado 213
Connecticut 218
Delaware 219
District of Columbia 221
Florida 211
Georgia 214
Hawaii 214
Idaho 209
Illinois 214
Indiana 211
Iowa 209
Kansas 211
Kentucky 209
Louisiana 207
Maine 213
Maryland 221
Massachusetts 221
Michigan 209
Minnesota 215
Mississippi 203
Missouri 211
Montana 204
Nebraska 207
Nevada 202
New Hampshire 213
New Jersey 221
New Mexico 208
New York 218
North Carolina 214
North Dakota 202
Ohio 211
Oklahoma 207
Oregon 213
Pennsylvania 214
Rhode Island 217
South Carolina 211
South Dakota 205
Tennessee 213
Texas 216
Utah 206
Vermont 213
Virginia 218
Washington 217
West Virginia 203
Wisconsin 207
Wyoming 201
Commended 201
International 221
New England Boarding Schools 221

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. For example, since the cutoff score in Texas moved down from 216 for the class of 2010 to 215 for the class of 2011, a Texas student in the class of 2012 with a score of 217 might assume that his or her score is more than enough to make the cut for 2012. However, you will note that the cutoff jumps from 215 to 219 for the class of 2012, leaving that student out of luck. On the other hand, qualifying scores in other states dropped during the same time period, so do not despair if your score is a few points lower than last year’s cutoff in your state. The cutoffs do not necessarily follow a locked pattern.

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.


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2 Responses to What PSAT Scores Make the Cut for National Merit?

  1. Pingback: What does it really take to get into the Ivy League? Part II: PSAT, SAT, and ACT

  2. A. Person says:


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