National Merit PSAT

Everything You Must Know about the National Merit Scholarship

There is nothing better for the brighter future of a student than to win a scholarship to a prestigious university. Not only is that a recognition of his/her academic talent, but is an acknowledgement that such talent needs to be awarded and supported in order to excel and lead the path for many more like him/her. The National Merit PSAT is an exam that allows students the opportunity to win a scholarship and fulfil their dreams. There are many things that students need to know before they plan to take the National Merit PSAT. The following article is going to do exactly that, and inform students on everything that they need to know about the National Merit PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship program.

Is NMQST and PSAT the Same?

Yes, it is the same exam known with two different names. The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is taken by students in the 9th, 10th and 11th grade, although only 11th graders are eligible to get a scholarship after qualifying for the NMSC (National Merit Scholarship Commission) Program. It lends valuable practice to the students in the 9th and 10th grades and gets them ready to face competitive exams like the SAT and ACT.

The National Merit PSAT allows 11th grade students a chance to win the National Merit Scholarships with the help of their combined scores of each component (critical reading + writing + math) in the PSAT/NMQST, which is also known as the Selection Index. The Selection Index, which is present in the final score report, helps the NMSC to sift out students who would make it as commended students, semi-finalists and finalists for the National Merit Scholarship programs. Nearly 1.5 million students appear for the National Merit PSAT every year, out of which only a few thousand get selected as finalists.

National Merit Scholarship

A national level scholarship scheme, the National Merit Scholarship Program began in 1955 and since then has been an opening to thousands of scholarships for students who are US citizens. Taking the National Merit PSAT is the only way to be eligible for the NMSC program. Score reports of the PSAT/NMSQT go to the NMSC and that is where the eligible candidates are selected. Applicants can gain more information by logging on to the official National Merit Scholarship website.

The selection procedure for the winners of the National Merit Scholarships goes through a number of stages, and lasts almost a year and a half. So, if a student intends to enter college after his final year in school then he must appear for the National Merit PSAT in his 11th grade. More so, because only 11th grade students are eligible entrants for the National Merit Scholarship programs. Out of the 50,000 selected eligible entrants for the NMSC programs, only 8,300 receive the scholarships. This decision solely rests on their academic success and how well they did in the PSAT.

Scores and Their Importance

The PSAT/NMSQT is administered twice a year in the month of October. Score reports reach the high-schools by December. 50,000 applicants with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. They are informed by April of the following year and are asked to name two colleges/universities that they would want to be referred to by the NMSC. By September, these high-scoring applicants are notified through their schools whether or not they have qualified as either a Commended Student or a Semi-finalist to the final rounds of selection. The final list of winners is only announced by March of the following year.

Every year a number of students try to do well and secure a place in the NMSC programs. Sheer hard work and dedication during school years and a solid preparation for the PSAT surely is a recipe for success. Applicants, although young, need to realise the gravity of doing well at this exam. Not only because it gives them a chance of winning a scholarship but also because of the numerous possibilities and opportunities it opens up for them.

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