Frequently Asked Questions
How does a high school student enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program?
To enter the competition, a high school student must take the PSAT/NMSQT® at their high school or approved location in the specified year of high school and meet NMSC's published program participation requirements. See "Entering the Competition" for further information.
If a student took the PSAT/NMSQT® as a sophomore, does he/she need to take it again?
Yes, if the student is spending the usual four years in grades 9 through 12. See "Entering the Competition" for further information.
Can a homeschooled student take the PSAT/NMSQT®?
Yes, but the test must be administered at a local high school or approved location. Contact the principal or guidance counselor well in advance of the test day to make arrangements to take the PSAT/NMSQT at that school.
What if a student misses the PSAT/NMSQT®?
A student who misses the PSAT/NMSQT test due to illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competition. See "Entering the Competition" for further information.
What should a student do if his/her PSAT/NMSQT® Score Report has an asterisk next to the Selection Index score, indicating that entry requirements for the National Merit® Scholarship Program were not met?
Compare responses to the entry items on the student's score report to the requirements listed on the National Merit Scholarship Program page. Entry requirements are also listed in the PSAT/NMSQT Official Student Guide. If the student made an error or plans have changed, write immediately to NMSC about it and NMSC will review the student's record.
If the student's PSAT/NMSQT® Score Report does not have an asterisk next to the Selection Index score, indicating that entry requirements for the National Merit® Scholarship Program were met, does that mean the student will be recognized in the program?
About 1.5 million students meet entry requirements, but only approximately 50,000 of the highest scoring students receive program recognition. If a student's score qualifies him or her for recognition in the National Merit Program, the student will be notified through his or her high school in September following the PSAT/NMSQT administration.
How many participants are honored annually in the National Merit® Scholarship Program?
A total of about 50,000 participants receive recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.
When and how are students notified they are Semifinalists?
Semifinalists are notified through their schools in early September. Semifinalists who are homeschooled are notified at their home addresses. See the National Merit® Scholarship Program page for additional information about the program.
How does a Semifinalist become a Finalist?
Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements, which are provided in the information they receive with their scholarship applications and are also listed in the PSAT/NMSQT® Official Student Guide. These include completing an application, having a consistently very high academic record, writing an essay, being endorsed and recommended by a school official, and taking the SAT® and earning a score that confirms the PSAT/NMSQT performance. Click here to view the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit® Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.) For more information regarding the SAT test, please visit the website of the College Board, which cosponsors the PSAT/NMSQT.
When and how are Semifinalists notified if they have advanced to Finalist standing?
Finalists are notified in early February by mail at their home addresses. See the National Merit® Scholarship Program page for additional details.
How does a Semifinalist or Finalist report a college choice or change?
To report a college choice or change, students must log in to their Online Scholarship Application accounts and click on the "Change College Choice" link. This link is located under Main Menu Item 3, "Maintain Your Personal Information After Your Application is Transmitted to NMSC." Key dates for college-sponsored award consideration in the National Merit® Program are provided to Semifinalists on page 3 of the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2016 National Merit® Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)
Page last updated September 2015