National Merit Scholarships
The National Merit Scholarship Program is run by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), an autonomous non-profit organization founded in 1955.
A $20 million grant from the Ford Foundation and a $500,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York provided the initial funding for NMSC.
Based on how well high school students score on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), the National Merit Scholarship Program awards undergraduate college grants to deserving individuals.
Students take the PSAT/NMSQT to receive coaching, to prepare for the SAT, and to participate the National Merit Scholarship competition.
Only students in their third year of high school are normally eligible for the National Merit Scholarship competition, while some sophomore students do take the exam.
Additional requirements for participation in the competition include full-time enrollment in high school, plans to enroll in college no later than the fall after high school graduation, and one of the following: citizenship, permanent resident status, or active participation in the citizenship-qualification process in the United States.
Program for Awards and Recognition of National Merit Scholarships
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) celebrates students who achieve high PSAT/NMSQT scores through press releases to the media and by sharing their information with colleges and universities to aid in the recruitment of intellectually talented candidates.
Scholarship recipients who fulfill stringent requirements also receive financial awards. commended students, semifinalists, finalists, and Merit scholars are only a few of the numerous types and levels of recognition and scholarships offered by the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Students also compete for the National Achievement Scholarship program as well as Special Scholarships given by businesses and academic institutions.
High school juniors who took the PSAT/NMSQT in October 2000 would not earn scholarships until spring 2002, the student’s senior year, due to the extensive screening procedure that occurs during the scholarship competition (about eighteen months in total). 1.2 million of the 2.9 million test-takers from 2000 (about 45% of the anticipated 2002 high school grads) qualified to apply for the scholarship competition. Over 50,000 of the top pupils from this smaller group qualified for merit-program recognition. Of the top 50,000 pupils, 34,000 were given letters of appreciation, recognizing their intellectual aptitude. Several of the students in this category were still qualified for the Special or National Achievement Scholarships even though they were no longer eligible for the Merit Scholarship.
The remaining 16,000 students were informed that they had been selected as semifinalists, maintaining their standing as Merit scholars. The semifinalists were subsequently sent scholarship applications by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to compete for finalist status. Around 90% of semifinalists who satisfied all academic and other standards advanced to finalist status.
The 7,900 Merit Scholarships that are available to finalists include the National Merit Scholarships ($2,500 prizes given once), Merit Scholarships sponsored by businesses, and Merit Scholarships provided by colleges. The amount and duration of scholarship awards offered by corporations and colleges varies based on the sponsors.
The National Merit Scholarship Program awards 7,900 National Merit Scholarships in addition to 1,700 Special Scholarships to outstanding candidates who did not meet the requirements to be Merit scholars but who met the requirements set forth by scholarship sponsors, such as companies or corporations.
For instance, a business might provide a set number of scholarships to the kids of its staff members who excelled on the PSAT/NMSQT. The NMSC evaluates the applications submitted by qualified students and chooses the winners.
The National Achievement Scholarship program is the third kind of scholarship program that NMSC coordinates. The National Achievement Scholarship Program for Excellent Colored Students, which launched the competition in the early 1960s, sought to recognize outstanding African-American students and expand their access to higher education.
Awards of over $70 million have been given to student participants thus far. The National Achievement Scholarship is operated and funded separately even though it coexists with the National Merit Scholarship program and the two programs appear to have a parallel design.
With one exception: African-American students must specifically seek entrance into the Achievement Scholarship program while completing the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet, the participation conditions for the Achievement Scholarship are the same as those for the National Merit Scholarship prizes.
Each year, around 110,000 students apply for the National Achievement Scholarship, and roughly 1,500 of the best scorers (represented regionally) are named semifinalists. More than 1,200 semifinalists submit an application for an Achievement Scholarship before moving on to finalist status. The recipients of the Achievement Scholarships are chosen from this group.
Each year, more than 700 Achievement Scholarships are funded by NMSC, professional associations, businesses, and college sponsors. National Achievement Scholarships ($2,500), corporate-sponsored Achievement Scholarships, and college-sponsored Achievement Scholarships are the three categories of Achievement Scholarship awards.
Students may enter both the National Merit Scholarship and the National Achievement Scholarship competitions in the same academic year, but they are only eligible to win one scholarship award.
The Test of National Merit Scholarships
The PSAT/NMSQT has five sections: two verbal, two mathematics, and one writing-skills portion. It is jointly sponsored by NMSC and the College Board. Sentence completions, analogies, and questions based on critical reading are all included in the verbal sections.
There are multiple choice questions, quantitative comparisons, and student-produced answers in the mathematical portions. Identifying sentence faults, improving sentences, and refining paragraph components are the final writing requirements.
The PSAT/NMSQT is given in October, and high school principals often receive the score results by Thanksgiving. For each PSAT/NMSQT section, the possible scores range from 20 to 80.
By multiplying the PSAT/NMSQT scores by 10, the results can be used to approximate the SAT score. For instance, if a student received a total verbal score of 48, their SAT score would be 480. The individual’s test report includes estimated SAT scores based on the PSAT/NMSQT results.
Juniors typically scored 48.3 (verbal), 49.2 (mathematics), and 49.2 (writing skills) on the PSAT/NMSQT in 1999, yielding a Selection Index of roughly 147. (the sum of the verbal, mathematics, and writing scores).
Students with the highest Selection Index scores are eligible for awards and scholarships administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The Selection Index has a range from 60 to 240.
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What grade level is required for National Merit?
Students must get a PSAT score of around 1400 in less competitive states like Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, or around 1470 in more competitive states like Connecticut or New Jersey, in order to be considered for National Merit Semifinalist rank.
Is a PSAT score of 1400 sufficient for National Merit?
Practically speaking, this means that anyone who is a semifinalist for a National Merit Scholarship (PSAT scores between 1400 and 1520, depending on the state of residence) should be able to easily obtain a confirming score (SAT scores between 1320 and 1600, and ACT scores between 26 and 36), especially given multiple.
How can I translate my PSAT results to a selection index?
The selection index is equal to the product of your test results in math, reading, and writing. If a student received scores of 34, 35, and 36, for instance, their Selection Index would be (34+35+36)x2 = 210. Instead of their 8-38 exam results, most students remember their section scores (160-760).
A National Merit Scholarship: How Can I Get One?
Preliminary S A T/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which serves as the initial screening test for more than 1.5 million applicants annually, and meeting the program’s published entry and participation requirements are the two ways that high school students in the United States apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program.