Is your PSAT score up to par? On average, students who take the PSAT score higher on the SAT than students who do not take the PSAT. If that’s not enough to compel you to prepare vigorously for the PSAT this October, consider that the PSAT can also qualify you for National Merit Scholarships your junior year!
Your PSAT Score and the National Merit Scholarship Program
The PSAT is also known as the National Merit® Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). The National Merit Scholarship Program began in 1955 as a competition for academic recognition and college scholarships. High school juniors participate in the National Merit Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT.
The PSAT/NMSQT is not required for college admission but earning a National Merit Scholarship is considered a prestigious accomplishment, a feat that can only be attained by testing well on the PSAT/NMSQT. Although less than 1% of PSAT-takers are named Merit Scholars, the distinction is an instantly recognizable feature on any college application. College admission advisors heavily seek National Merit Scholars and are willing to pay for the privilege of being able to boast a large number of them each year. National Merit Scholarships range from $2,500 to $10,000 per year, but they are worth far more. The tables below present private and public universities that offer full tuition/full ride scholarships to National Merit Scholars.
NMF – National Merit Finalist
NAF – National Achievement Finalist
NMSF – National Merit Semi-Finalist
NASF – National Achievement Semi-Finalist
Full ride – Full tuition and room/board
* For four years/eight semesters
** For five years/ten semesters
|University of Alabama||Full tuition**||Full tuition*|
|Auburn University||Full tuition*|
|University of Northern Alabama||Eligible for full tuition||Eligible for full tuition|
|Troy University||NMF only, eligible for full ride*||Eligible for full ride*|
|Arizona State University||Eligible for full tuition|
|University of Central Florida||Full tuition*|
|University of Idaho||Full ride*|
|Eastern Kentucky University||NMF only, full ride*|
|University of Kentucky||Eligible for full ride*|
|University of Maine||Eligible for full tuition*||Eligible for full tuition*|
|University of Minnesota Morris||Full tuition*|
|Mississippi State University||Full tuition*||Full tuition*|
|University of Nebraska, Lincoln||Eligible for full tuition*|
|New Mexico State||NMF only, full tuition*|
|University of Oklahoma||Full tuition*|
|University of Houston||NMF only, full ride*|
|University of Texas, Dallas||Full tuition*|
|University of Texas, Tyler||Full ride*|
|University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh||NMF only, full ride*|
|Abilene Christian University||NMF only, full tuition*||NMSF only, full tuition|
|Alfred University||NMF only, eligible for full ride*||NMSF only, eligible for full tuition|
|Alma College||Eligible for full tuition*|
|Andrews University||Full tuition*|
|Baylor University||NMF only, full tuition*|
|Bradley University||Full tuition*|
|University of Evansville||Full tuition*||Scholarship worth $20,000/year|
|Faulkner University||NMF only, full ride*||NMSF, full tuition*|
|Fordham University||Eligible for full ride*||Eligible for full ride*|
|Harding University||NMF only, full tuition*||NMSF only, full tuition*|
|Liberty University||NMF only, full ride*||NMSF only, full tuition*|
|Lipscomb University||Eligible for one of ten full ride scholarships*||NMSF & NMF (that don’t receive a full ride), full tuition*|
|Long Island University, Post||Eligible for full tuition*|
|Oakwood University||Full tuition*||Full tuition*|
|Pacific Union College||Full tuition*||Half tuition*|
|Roberts Wesleyan College||NMF only, full tuition*|
|University of Tulsa||Eligible for full ride*|
Is My PSAT Score Good Enough?
The PSAT/NMSQT is offered once per academic year in October and includes three sections: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing Skills. Each section is scored on a scale from 20 to 80 with a composite score ranging from 60 to 240. PSAT score reports include national percentiles, which allow you to compare your scores with other students in your grade level who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT. If you take the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior, you will receive junior percentiles. If you take the PSAT/NMSQT as a sophomore or earlier, you will receive sophomore percentiles. For example, a junior with a percentile of 55 has earned a score better than 55 percent of all juniors.
Although not every student will become a National Merit Scholar, the PSAT/NMSQT is important for more than just scholarships. On average, students who take the PSAT score higher on the SAT than students who do not take the PSAT. Most schools offer the PSAT as early as 8th or 9th grade. You should take it as many times as possible, and use your PSAT scores to build on your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses from year to year. View the PSAT as a learning opportunity that will allow you to become familiar with the format, structure, and question types that you will encounter on the SAT. This insight will inform your plan of attack as you focus your energy in preparation for the SAT.
You may wonder how your PSAT/NMSQT score translates to the SAT. The SAT sub-scores range from 200 to 800. To calculate what your SAT scores would be, simply add an extra zero to each of your PSAT sub-scores. For example, a score of 60 on the PSAT Math section translates to a 600 on the SAT Math section.
Set a Target PSAT Score
You can make the job of planning your SAT studies easier if you start early by prepping for the PSAT/NMSQT. First, research your target schools and find out what counts as a “good” score – meaning, determine the score range that most admitted students fall within, and choose a target score that is within the upper quartile of that range. Then, use the PSAT/NMSQT as practice for the SAT. Strive to achieve your target score on the PSAT. Just think, by the time you take the SAT, you won’t simply meet your target score: you’ll surpass it!
Learn more about how MathSP can help you succeed on the PSAT!