Facts About The National Merit Finalist

December 25, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Facts About The National Merit Finalist

What is a national merit finalist?

What is a national merit finalist? The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a privately funded, not-for-profit corporation with its headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, manages the National Merit Scholarship Program, a United States intellectual scholarship competition for recognition and university scholarships. The scheme was launched in 1955.

The National Merit Scholarship Competition (NMSC) is an annual scholarship and awards competition available to all students who meet the entrance conditions. It also managed the National Achievement Scholarship Program, which was established in 1964 and was only open to African-American students until 2015. National Merit Scholars are the top-performing students in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Semifinalists’ and finalists’ academic and extracurricular achievements are also recognized.

Commended students are chosen based on a selection index score that is used nationally. This score can change from year to year and is often lower than what is needed for participants to be recognized as semifinalists in their particular states. The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is the examination required for students to enter contests each year.

a female student appears to be thinking of something

When they take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), over 1.6 million students from about 22,000 high schools sign up for the National Merit Scholarship competition each year. This serves to screen program applicants by assessing writing, math problem-solving, and critical reading skills rather than prior knowledge.

Depending on the overall number of applicants and in proportion to each state’s share of the nation’s high school seniors graduating, semifinalists are chosen to represent each state. The semi-finalists are the top 5% of high school seniors in each state who entered the program and got the best scores.

National Merit Scholarship Eligibility

How will you qualify for the National Merit Scholarship? How to be a National Merit Finalist? Priorities come first. A national academic competition for high school students to win scholarships that will pay for their college education is called the National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) oversees its administration.

Students who perform well on the PSAT are eligible for the National Merit Program. Actually, the test’s full name is the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, or PSAT/NMSQT for short. Don’t take the PSAT 10, an alternative that won’t count for the National Merit Scholarship, but the official PSAT/NMSQT instead.

High scorers may be named “commended students,” “semifinalists,” or (after submitting an additional application) “finalists” by the NMSC after receiving their PSAT results. About 7,500 students are chosen from the finalist list to receive scholarships.

A student must take the PSAT/NMSQT in the designated high school program year and no later than the third year of grades 9 through 12 to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. Typically, this means that junior-year students should take the test in the fall.

Lastly, qualified students must either go to high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. commonwealth or territory, or they must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States who go to high school abroad.

The NMSC will use a few factual questions at the start of the PSAT/NMSQT to establish a student’s eligibility for the program.

How to become a National Merit finalist?

How to become a national merit finalist? The PSAT/NMSQT is the first step in the process of earning a National Merit Scholarship commendation and moving on to the semifinals or finals, but it’s not the last.

AmissionSight listed the following stages of the procedure that should be remembered in becoming a national merit finalist:

1. Obtain a top PSAT score!

Of course, acing the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior is the most crucial thing. Most students must have test results that place them in the top 1% of students in their state to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship. Accordingly, the score cutoff will vary depending on where you live and how high the PSAT scores of other students in your state were. If your score was high enough to qualify you for the semifinals, you’ll learn this in September of your senior year.

Two students talking while walking in the campus.

You could now be recognized as a semifinalist or a commended student. Both achievements are noteworthy and should be listed on your college application. The National Merit Program only recognizes less than 5% of exam takers.

2. Excellent application writing

Congratulations if you are selected as a National Merit Semifinalist! The application process to be a finalist is now open. This scholarship application is a vital step in the procedure because only a tiny number of semifinalists advance to finalist standing and get the grant. More details about this are provided below under “National Merit Semifinalists.”

3. Success on the SAT

Your testing isn’t finished yet; National Merit Finalists also achieve highly on the SAT in addition to performing well on the PSAT. Along with your scholarship application, you will also need to send in your authentic College Board SAT scores.

There is no suggested cutoff score for the SAT according to the NMSC or College Board; they only state that it should be “high enough to confirm your PSAT or NMSQT performance.” Therefore, it’s crucial that you continue studying for the SAT if you do well on the PSAT so that, should you move to semifinalist standing, you’ll be in a strong position to apply to become a finalist.

National Merit Finalist Decision

When will the National Merit Finalist decision be released? The NMSC will start contacting scholarship winners in March 2023, including a private notification to their high schools. (Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists document has a schedule.) Finalists who did not receive a National Merit Scholarship will be notified by the NMSC in the middle of May 2023. However, a few more scholarships might become available after this time; those recipients will be notified, and their identities will be made public to the media over the summer.

Which finalists are eligible for rewards from corporations that provide merit scholarships?

In 2023, finalists who satisfy certain requirements will be granted about 950 corporately funded merit scholarship grants. The majority of the 180 corporate sponsors who support these scholarships designate them for recipients who are children of their employees; however, some sponsors only give out awards to people who live in areas where they have facilities or offices or to finalists who are pursuing college majors and careers that the sponsoring organization wants to support.

Even though there are several merit scholarships available for students to earn during the college application process, the National Merit Scholarship is one of the most coveted. Participating in the National Merit Program has a number of additional advantages besides just the prestige of winning a National Merit Scholarship. A great signal of your academic success to include in your application is achieving the designation of “commended student” or “semifinalist,” which may allow you to apply for special scholarships.

a female high school student looking at the camera smiling

Preparing for the PSAT/NMSQT is the best way to put yourself in the running for the National Merit Scholarship. Do your best to stay ahead of the curve now rather than waiting until junior year. After that, if you do qualify to submit an application for finalist standing, don’t do it by yourself! Participants in the National Merit Program are judged on a variety of factors beyond their academic performance, much like applicants to top universities. Make sure you have a reliable advisor by your side to help you with the application.

Similar to candidates for elite universities, National Merit Finalists are assessed on a variety of criteria in addition to their academic performance. To help you and guide you through the application procedure, make sure you have a trustworthy college admission specialist at your side.

AdmissionSight provides private, one-on-one tutoring sessions via Zoom to assist students in raising their academic performance and admissions prospects. The benchmark score for the country’s most elite universities is 1550 on the SAT and 35 on the ACT, which graduates of our program regularly obtain. Schedule your free initial consultation now.





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