PSAT National Merit Scholar Qualifying Scores for 2020, by State

Update Sepember 6, 2019. Note: Students received their PSAT results in December 2018 are the NMS Class of 2020Their qualifying selection index scores are listed below, per the Compassprep website.

The selection index score is the sum of your three PSAT scores, maximum of 228. The first score listed is for 2020; the second was the score required for the class of 2019; and the third is the score for the class of 2018.

Alabama 216, 216, 216
Alaska 213, 215, 217
Arizona 219, 220, 220
Arkansas 214, 214, 215
California 222, 223, 222
Colorado 220, 221, 220
Connecticut 221, 222, 221
Delaware 220, 222, 221
Dist Columbia 223, 223, 223
Florida 219, 219, 219
Georgia 220, 220, 220
Hawaii 219, 220, 220
Idaho 215, 214, 216
Illinois 221, 221, 221
Indiana 218, 219, 219
Iowa 215, 216, 216
Kansas 218, 218, 219
Kentucky 217, 218, 217
Louisiana 215, 217, 216
Maine 215, 217, 215
Maryland 222, 223, 222
Massachusetts 223, 223, 222
Michigan 219, 219, 219
Minnesota 219, 220, 220
Mississippi 214, 215, 213
Missouri 217, 217, 217
Montana 214, 214, 214
Nebraska 216, 216, 215
Nevada 218, 218, 217
New Hampshire 218, 219, 217
New Jersey 223, 223, 223
New Mexico 213, 215, 215
New York 221, 221, 221
North Carolina 219, 220, 219
North Dakota 212, 212, 211
Ohio 218, 219, 219
Oklahoma 214, 216
Oregon 220, 221, 220
Pennsylvania 220, 220, 220
Rhode Island 218, 220, 216
South Carolina 215, 216, 217
South Dakota 214, 215, 215
Tennessee 219, 219, 218
Texas 221, 221, 221
Utah 215, 215, 216
Vermont 216, 216, 217
Virginia 222, 222, 222
Washington 221, 222, 222
West Virginia 212, 212, 211
Wisconsin 216, 216, 217
Wyoming 212, 212, 213
Commended 212, 211, 209
Territories 212, 211, 209
International 223, 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 classof 2020, from 2012 in West Virginia to 223 in New Jersey.