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What PSAT scores qualify for the National Merit Scholarship?

SAT Diagnostic test

With PSAT scores coming out in the near future, you might be wondering whether your PSAT scores will qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT offered in October of each year doubles as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), so if you did take the PSAT, are in your junior year of high school, and scored exceptionally well, you may qualify for one of the scholarships!


If you did qualify to become a semifinalist, you won’t be officially notified for many months. However, there is a way to determine in advance if you are one of the lucky nominees!

Follow these steps to calculate your NMSQT score.

1.) Double your Evidence Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score.

2.) Add that number to your Math score.

3.) Divide by 10.

For example, if you got a 750 in EBRW and 700 in math, you would calculate your NMSQT score with the following equation: [2(750)+700]/10=220. This would be a very good score! For those of you paying attention, it’s true that the NMSQT prioritizes reading and writing over math, so if you got a 750 in math and 700 in EBRW, you are unlikely to qualify, at least here in Pennsylvania.

NMSQT Cutoffs

Now that you know your NMSQT score, you can compare it to the cutoff score for your state over the past few years. Please take note that the official cutoff scores won’t be released for several months, but they are pretty consistent from year to year. If you live in Pennsylvania, the score you are going for is 220 or higher. For the highest scoring states of Massachusetts or New Jersey, you’ll need a 223. If you are lucky enough to live in Wyoming, West Virginia, or North Dakota, all you’ll need is a 212.  For the full list of qualifying scores, I recommend Compass’ excellent resource page.


If your PSAT scores didn’t qualify for the National Merit Scholarship cutoff don’t fret. In the case you scored a 1400 or higher, there’s a good chance you’ll have the honor of being a commended student. If you do expect to make the cutoff, there will be an application to fill out – with essays – to progress from semifinalist to finalist.


Most important, whatever your score, I hereby commend you for putting in the effort to practice for the SAT and taking one more step toward your future college and career. Keep your motivation high and go over your test results carefully. Try to learn something from every mistake on the PSAT and keep on studying until you’re ready for the official SAT.

heather kreyHeather Krey, M.Ed. is the co-owner of World Class Tutoring. She has more than two decades of experience helping students meet their goals on the SAT and ACT and is the author of World Class Tutoring’s innovative test prep curriculum. Ms. Krey has bachelor’s degrees from Lehigh University in engineering and psychology. She also has an M.Ed. in Mathematics from DeSales University and an M.Ed. in Teaching from Kutztown University. Ms. Krey holds PA teaching certificates in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, and English and has taught in Parkland, Emmaus, and Southern Lehigh High Schools. She also worked as an adjunct professor at Cedar Crest College and as a tutor at Kutztown’s University Writing Center. Before World Class Tutoring, she and her team ran Test Prep for Success, a tutoring and test prep business similar to WCT.

More posts by Heather Krey:

SAT vs. ACT: How do you decide? 

Glossary of SAT Math Terms

Managing Test Anxiety

Heather is available for online tutoring sessions!  Learn more at World Class or by calling us at 610-760-3424.