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National Merit scholarship

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a scholarship program for high school students. Students can win scholarships in by taking the PSAT/NMSQT in their junior year of high school, qualifying for the National Merit Program semifinalist list or finalist list, and being named one of the winners of the National Merit $2,500 college scholarship. The scholarship can only be used for your freshman year of high school.

The National Merit Scholarship Program was established in 1955 as an academic competition to award college scholarships and recognition. The National Merit Scholarship Program is open to high school students in the United States. They must take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which screens over 1.5 million applicants each year and meet the published entry and participation requirements. To be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, and to compete for 8,500 scholarships in 2023, you must take the Preliminary SAT/NMSQT.

What is a National Merit Scholarship?

National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship offered to high school students. It is awarded based on PSAT/NMSQT scores and can be used for undergraduate study. Many colleges offer National Merit Scholarships, but each college or university may have its rules regarding how many awards they make and how much money they give away in scholarships.

According to the 2018-19 Annual Report of the National Merit, Scholarship Corporation, 7,642 finalists received National Merit Scholarships. The total award amount was $31.2 million, which is $4,082 per finalist.

A National Merit Scholar winner gets a $2,500 college scholarship that can only be used for the freshman year of high school. The corporate-sponsored merit scholarships are four-year renewable awards that range from $500 to $2,000 per year.

You may be eligible to apply to be a National Merit Scholar if you

  • Intend to spend four years at high school (grades 9-12) before attending college full-time must pass the qualifying exam in their third year (grade 11). Students who are a sophomore and take the 2021 PSAT/NMSQT, but intend to complete four years in grades 9-12, will not be eligible for entry into the 2023 National Merit Program. To be eligible for the competition, they must take the PSAT/NMSQT in 2022 as juniors.

In addition, if you take the PSAT/NMSQT, the National Merit Scholarship program also offers a wide variety of different scholarships from different colleges and companies that you might be able to receive depending on your score. See the table below:

national merit scholarship

How do I apply for a National Merit Scholarship?

To apply for a National Merit Scholarship, you must take the PSAT/NMSQT as a junior or senior in high school.

If you score well on this exam, your name will be forwarded to one of many scholarship organizations that award merit-based scholarships.

You can also apply for these scholarships at any time after taking the PSAT/NMSQT — even if it’s the next day or several years later!

All these organizations have their eligibility requirements; for example, some require that candidates have at least a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and others have no GPA requirement.

Some also require applicants to complete an additional essay section on their applications. In contrast, others do not ask students to write anything more than their personal information and standardized test scores (which are already submitted with your application).

When should I advance from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT?

The SAT is an excellent tool for many students and parents, but it’s not the only one. There are many other scholarship programs out there that you can use to your advantage.

For example, if you want to get into a top business school or law school, then take the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). If you’re going to get into medical school, then take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).

And if none of those apply to you and all you want is a scholarship from your state government? Then go ahead and take both tests. They aren’t mutually exclusive and won’t hurt your chances of getting into college either way.

But if any of these areas apply specifically for yourself, then go ahead and take them seriously; maybe even consider doing both to maximize opportunities later on down the line when using for post-graduate degrees such as business or law school programs or perhaps even medical school itself.

Does taking the PSAT count for anything?

The PSATs that you take before your junior year don’t count for anything but you can use them to get a feel for what the SAT will be like and find out whether or not you’re prepared. The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT, and it’s also used as an indicator of academic ability and potential (but not in college admissions).

If you score well on the PSAT/NMSQT, you’ll be more likely to receive scholarships for National Merit Scholarships.

How to become a National Merit Scholar

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT. The NMSC administers this test every year in October to all high school juniors who score well enough on it, so if you have your heart set on being considered for any of its scholarships, it’s essential that you take this exam seriously and do everything possible to do well on it—that means taking practice tests and getting tutoring or coaching if needed.

Is National Merit Scholarship a big deal?

The National Merit Scholarship is not really a big deal because the amount of money that you’re getting if you win the scholarship is only a couple thousand dollars. Other scholarships can give you way more money. In addition, many students who are applying to top colleges have being a National Merit Scholar as one of their awards, so it is not really unique.

The PSAT/NMSQT opens up many opportunities for students.

The PSAT/NMSQT opens up many opportunities for students. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), a non-profit organization, hosts the PSAT/NMSQT and administers more than $32 million in scholarships annually. Students who score well on the PSAT/NMSQT can advance to compete for these scholarships by entering their names into the competition through an online application form.

The NMSC offers four types of merit-based awards:

  • National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP) — approximately 1,000 college-sponsored scholarships worth $2 million from colleges across the country.
  • National Achievement Scholarship Program (NASP) — approximately 2,500 college-sponsored scholarships worth about $9 million from colleges across the country.
  • National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship Program (NHSP) — approximately 1,000 college-sponsored scholarships worth about $3 million from colleges across the country.
  • National Black Achievement Scholarship Program (NABASP)–approximately 3,400 college-sponsored scholarships worth over 10 million dollars.


We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the PSAT/NMSQT and how it can help you prepare for college. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity because it opens up many opportunities for students. Even though the National Merit Scholarship only considers your PSAT/NMSQT score, you should do your best in school—and outside of school too. In addition to doing well academically, being active in extracurricular activities is also an important part of the application process for many scholarships (even ones sponsored by colleges). So make sure that whatever interests you do, get involved for at least 10 hours per week, so they’ll know what kind of person they accept into their program. If you’re interested you can read my post about GivenUs, which is a scam scholarship company.

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