The National Merit® Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year.
1. take the PSAT/NMSQT during their junior year of high school
2. be enrolled as a high school student
3. attend high school in the United States, the District of Columbia, or U.S. commonwealth and territory
Commended Students are named based on a nationally applied Selection Index score that may vary from year to year and is typically below the level required for participants to be named Semifinalists in their respective states.
Semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis. Semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in each state. Qualifying scores vary from state to state and from year to year, but the scores of all Semifinalists are extremely high.
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements explained in the information provided to each Semifinalist.
More information about the PSAT/NMSQT® and National Merit Scholarship Corporation can be found in the PSAT/NMSQT® Student Guide sent to high schools for distribution to students before the test. The NMSC section gives requirements for entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program, explains steps in the competition, and describes groups of students honored and scholarships offered.