PSAT National Merit Scholar Qualifying Scores for 2019, by State

Update December 10, 2018. Note: Students who just received their PSAT results in December 2018 are the NMS Class of 2020The qualifying selection index scores for the 2019 class are listed below, although the website Compassprep now has estimates for the class of 2020. Compassprep is the best site we know of for predicting cutoff scores.

The class of 2020 will not receive official notification until September 2019.

Below are the Selection Index semifinalist qualifying scores for the Class of 2019, 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 2019; the second was the score required for the class of 2018; and the third is the score for the class of 2017.

Alabama 216, 216, 215
Alaska 215, 217, 213
Arizona 220, 220, 219
Arkansas 214, 215, 213
California 223, 222, 221
Colorado 221, 220, 218
Connecticut 222, 221, 220
Delaware 222, 221, 218
Dist Columbia 223, 223, 222
Florida 219, 219, 217
Georgia 220, 220, 219
Hawaii 220, 220, 217
Idaho 214, 216, 214
Illinois 221, 221, 219
Indiana 219, 219, 217
Iowa 216, 216, 215
Kansas 218, 219, 217
Kentucky 218, 217, 215
Louisiana 217, 216, 214
Maine 217, 215, 214
Maryland 223, 222, 221
Massachusetts 223, 222, 222
Michigan 219, 219, 216
Minnesota 220, 220, 219
Mississippi 215, 213, 212
Missouri 217, 217, 216
Montana 214, 214, 210
Nebraska 216, 215, 215
Nevada 218, 217, 214
New Hampshire 219, 217, 216
New Jersey 223, 223, 222
New Mexico 215, 215, 213
New York 221, 221, 219
North Carolina 220, 219, 218
North Dakota 212, 211, 209
Ohio 219, 219, 217
Oklahoma 216, 213
Oregon 221, 220, 219
Pennsylvania 220, 220, 218
Rhode Island 220, 216, 217
South Carolina 216, 217, 215
South Dakota 215, 215, 209
Tennessee 219, 218, 218
Texas 221, 221, 220
Utah 215, 216, 215
Vermont 216, 217, 215
Virginia 222, 222, 221
Washington 222, 222, 221
West Virginia 212, 211, 209
Wisconsin 216, 217, 215
Wyoming 212, 213, 209
Commended 212, 211
Territories 212, 211
International 223, 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 PSAT Scoring and NMS (for a detailed explanation of scoring); 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 2019, from 2012 in West Virginia to 223 in New Jersey. Rhode Island had the biggest increase, from 216 to 220.

Advertisements