On January 7, College Board released the scores from the Fall 2015 PSAT/NMSQT. You should be able to access your scores on College Board’s website. You can find them here.
Many of you are probably wondering whether or not you will be a National Merit Semifinalist. While you will not know for sure until September 2016, here is some information about how the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) selects the semifinalists:
1. NMSC chooses National Merit Semifinalists by first calculating index scores.
An index score is determined by adding the raw (8-38) scores for Reading, Writing, and Math together and then doubling the sum. For example, 38 Reading Score + 38 Writing Score + 38 Math Score = 114 Total Score x 2 = 228 Index Score.
2. NMSC selects students to be National Merit Semifinalists based on the highest index scores.
According to NMSC’s website, approximately 1.5 million students take the PSAT and only approximately 50,000 are selected as either “Commended Students,” who receive recognition but do not advance to the next qualifying stage, or “National Merit Semifinalists,” who do advance to the next qualifying stage. That means only the top 3% of scores receive any kind of recognition.
3. National Merit Semifinalists score in the top 1%, or the 99th percentile (for all subjects combined).
Here is another way to look at the scoring information:
1.5 million students take the PSAT, and of those 1.5 million, ONLY 50,000 received any recognition.
Of those 50,000 recognized students, 34,000 of them are “Commendable” and DO NOT qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.
Of those 50,000 recognized students, 16,000 of them are “National Merit Semifinalists” and DO qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.
Now, there’s one catch. NMSC makes its selections on a state-by-state basis. So the index score necessary to become a National Merit Semifinalist is, for example, different for students in Texas and students in California.
For more information about potential cutoffs, especially in Texas, refer to this previous blog post. While there is some mystery surrounding which scores will be included in the National Merit Semifinalist selection process, we at B2A hope to reduce your anxiety.