PSAT National Merit Scholar Qualifying Scores for 2018, by State

For the Class of 2018, which has received scores, please see this post at Compassprep with selection index scores for this newest class.) We are also listing the scores for 2018 below with a comparison to 2017 scores.

Below are the Selection Index semifinalist qualifying scores for the Class of 2018, according to privately reported scores gathered by the Compassprep site. The selection index score is the sum of your three PSAT scores, maximum of 228. The first score listed is for 2018; the second was the score required in 2017.

Alabama 216, 215
Alaska 217, 213
Arizona 220, 219
Arkansas 215, 213
California 222, 221
Colorado 220, 218
Connecticut 221, 220
Delaware 221, 218
Dist Columbia 223, 222
Florida 219, 217
Georgia 220, 219
Hawaii 220, 217
Idaho 216, 214
Illinois 221, 219
Indiana 219, 217
Iowa 216, 215
Kansas 219, 217
Kentucky 217, 215
Louisiana 216, 214
Maine 215, 214
Maryland 222, 221
Massachusetts 222, 222
Michigan 219, 216
Minnesota 220, 219
Mississippi 213, 212
Missouri 217, 216
Montana 214, 210
Nebraska 215, 215
Nevada 217, 214
New Hampshire 217, 216
New Jersey 223, 222
New Mexico 215, 213
New York 221, 219
North Carolina 219, 218
North Dakota 211, 209
Ohio 219, 217
Oklahoma 216, 213
Oregon 220, 219
Pennsylvania 219, 218
Rhode Island 216, 217
South Carolina 217, 215
South Dakota 215, 209
Tennessee 218, 218
Texas 221, 220
Utah 216, 215
Vermont 217, 215
Virginia 222, 221
Washington 222, 221
West Virginia 211, 209
Wisconsin 217, 215
Wyoming 213, 209
Commended 211
Territories 211
International 223

To qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, the PSAT must be taken in the student’s junior year of high school.  Many parents may not be aware that there is no single nationwide score on the PSAT that will qualify a student to become a NMS semifinalist, a critical preliminary step on the way to becoming a finalist and then perhaps a merit scholar.

Students are classified according to the state in which they attend high school, not the state of actual residence.

For more information about confirmation scores, please see The National Merit Journey: What You Need to Know, Part One and The National Merit Journey Part Two: The Parent’s Role.

(See also Best Major Universities for National Merit Scholarship Funding and Merit Aid: Publics that Fund at least 50% of Tuition and Fees.)

Semifinalists emerge from the top 3-4% of students (50,000 or so) taking the test, by virtue of the PSAT score alone.  The top 3-4% of students earn “commended” status, and there is a national uniform score for commended students=209 for 2017.  (See below for SAT equivalent.) Semifinalists, on the other hand, account for fewer than 1% of all students, or about 16,000 nationwide.

From these students, the merit scholar foundation, using state allocation levels, selects about 15,000 to become finalists; and from this group, about 9,000 are actually selected as merit scholars, based on both PSAT and SAT scores and a letter of recommendation from the high school principal.  Therefore, many students who meet the semifinalist thresholds listed below do not go on to become finalists or merit scholars (two different things, though for some schools being a finalist is sufficient to earn support).  We speculate that meaningful improvement on the SAT, taken in the spring of the junior year, relative to the PSAT score from the preceding October, may help in identifying students who go beyond finalist status and become merit scholars.

Each state has its own threshold PSAT score, which is the baseline for students to be considered as semifinalists in a given state.  The scores vary widely for the NMS class of 2018, from 2011 in West Virginia to 223 in New Jersey. States with significant increases are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota (+6), and Wyoming.