PSAT National Merit

How Can You Avail the PSAT National Merit Scholarship

PSAT is a standardized test and is taken by students who intend to appear for the SAT. It is also a scholarship test, which you can use to pay for your college education. The test is important for other reasons as well. For example, one of the prerequisites for availing scholarships is that you must have SAT scores somewhat similar to your PSAT scores (see point 8 below).

Prepare in High School

If you want to appear for this test, you must plan in advance, which means that you must take the test early when in high school. Most students appear for the test in their junior or sophomore year to allow enough time to apply for scholarships as well as to prepare for the final SAT test. Thus, if you want to enter the 2013 National Merit Program, you will need to appear for PSAT 2011.

When to Take the Test

You must appear for the test in the specified year of your high school program. The following are three circumstances in which you can appear for the test:

  1. If you plan to complete four years in high school (that is, grades 9 through 12) before entering college for full-time courses, you must take the qualifying test in the third year of high school (grade 11 or junior year). Thus, if you still have four years of high school left, it is advisable not to appear for the test in 2011 because you will not be eligible for the 2013 program.

  2. If you want to leave high school early to enroll in college after spending three years or less in grades 9 through 12, you will be eligible for the scholarship if you appear for the test before enrolling in college.

  3. If you want to participate in a post-secondary enrollment options program you must take the test in your third year of high school (grade 11 or junior year). The post-secondary options program is a program wherein you can enroll in both high school and college simultaneously.

Eligibility Criteria

In order to qualify as a finalist in this test, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. You must be a US citizen.
  2. You must be enrolled as a high school student.
  3. You must appear for the test in the specified year of your high school program.
  4. You must plan to enroll in college for full-time courses.
  5. You must provide all the information requested in the National Merit Scholarship Application, including an essay.
  6. You must have a record of very high academic performance in all of grades 9 through 12 and in any college course work taken.
  7. You must be recommended by your high school principal.
  8. You must appear for the SAT and your scores must conform to your scores of the PSAT.
  9. You must provide all documents or information as requested by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

Types of Scholarships

There are four types of scholarships available:

  • National Merit® $2500 Scholarships: All the finalists from a particular state compete against each other to be selected for a single payment of $2500.

  • Corporate-sponsored scholarships: In this case, the finalists are usually children of employees, residents of a specified area or students who intend to pursue a course specific to the skills used in the company.

  • Corporate-sponsored Special Scholarships: The candidate in this case might not be a finalist but is a high performance achiever. The eligibility requirements of this category usually are the same as those eligible for corporate-sponsored scholarships.

  • College-sponsored Merit Scholarships: The finalists in this case plan to attend their sponsor college and inform the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).