Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PSAT: National Merit Scores Are In - Did you make the cut?

Written by Lauren Kahn, Educational Consultant / CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting, LLC
512-294-6608  Lonestaredconsulting@gmail.com

Updated on August 31, 2010
Before we delve into the "overachiever" scores for the 2008 PSAT (Class of 2010), I want to put things in perspective. If you are a national merit semi finalist for the 2009/2010 school year, you performed exceptionally well on this standardized test and scored in the top 1% of your state. Bravo to you. To see the next steps in the process to cementing your place as a National Merit Finalist and possible scholarship recipient, click here.

According to the College Board, the average Selection Index for students in eleventh grade is about a 141. Note: Only students in eleventh grade are eligible to enter NMSC scholarship programs. This score is equivalent to about a 1000 on the CR and Math combined for the SAT. The PSAT Selection Index, which is used to determine eligibility in National Merit Scholarship Corporation programs (NMSC), is the sum of the three scores in each test section (CR + M + W). The Selection Index ranges from 60 to 240.

Therefore, your chances of getting into Stanford or Harvard are not completely shot if you did not score above a 210 on the PSAT. It is a preliminary SAT and is meant to be a practice test to see how you function on a standardized test in a pressure cooker environment. SAT Prep or ACT Prep can greatly improve your scores. It is possible to game the tests to an extent. Contact me directly if you would like advisement on test prep companies in Texas.

College consultant, Nancy Greisemer says, "Each year, a magic wand gets waived over the total universe of PSAT scores, and a list of merit scholarship finalists appears. These finalists are invited to compete for a host of benefits ranging from scholarship money to automatic college admission. They’re lauded in the press and labeled as among the most distinguished high school students in the nation. What did they do to earn all this fame and fortune—take one test on one day. And if luck would have it, they happened to live in a state where their PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index—a combination of math, critical reading, and writing scores—happened to be above the cut-off."

The methodology for determining who gets the merit scholar nod is loosely described on the NMSQT website. To begin the process, high school students must take the PSAT in October of their junior year. In the spring after the test, 50,000 high scorers are contacted for program recognition as “commended” or “semifinalist” based on a selectivity index generated by the combined PSAT scores. Last year’s national cutoff for recognition was 201.

High scorers are then notified of their final National Merit status in September of senior year. Students who received a score below the semifinalist cutoff specific to their state will be “commended." Even if you move states after you took the PSAT, you are subject to the score selection index cutoff for the state you were enrolled at for high school during the administering of the PSAT. Those above the cutoff—about 16,000 students—are invited to continue in the competition as semifinalists. Approximately 90% of the semifinalists eventually earn the finalist distinction.

Each state has a different cutoff and these cutoffs vary by year. Below is a chart listing selectivity indexes for 2010 (PSAT Administered 2008):
Rank

State

2010

Rank

State

2010

1

DC

221

25

Indiana

211

1

Maryland

221

25

Kansas

211

1

Massachusetts

221

25

Missouri

211

1

New Jersey

221

25

Ohio

211

5

Delaware

219

25

South Carolina

211

6

California

218

32

Arizona

210

6

Connecticut

218

33

Idaho

209

6

New York

218

33

Iowa

209

6

Virginia

218

33

Kentucky

209

10

Rhode Island

217

33

Michigan

209

10

Washington

217

37

Alabama

208

12

Texas

216

37

New Mexico

208

13

Colorado

215

39

Louisiana

207

13

Minnesota

215

39

Nebraska

207

15

Georgia

214

39

Oklahoma

207

15

Hawaii

214

39

Wisconsin

207

15

Illinois

214

43

Utah

206

15

North Carolina

214

44

South Dakota

205

15

Pennsylvania

214

45

Montana

204

20

Maine

213

46

Arkansas

203

20

New Hampshire

213

46

Mississippi

203

20

Oregon

213

46

West Virginia

203

20

Tennessee

213

49

Nevada

202

20

Vermont

213

49

North Dakota

202

25

Alaska

211

50

Wyoming

201

25

Florida

211




* State Chart created by: Nancy Greisemer of College Explorations

Because scholarship money, prestige, and college admissions are at stake, the NMQSC is a huge deal and knowing the cutoff for your state can give you some guidance as to whether or not you qualify as a National Merit Semi-Finalist. These scores above will tell you if you are close to the cut off score for your state. Although you will not the precise cutoff score for national merit for the 2011 graduating class until September of 2010.

Imagine living in California and scoring a 215—an outstanding score that would earn semifinalist status in most of the country, and definitely in all of your neighboring states, but because of your address, you will only be commendedDo you think they should nationalize the scores or leave them as determined by state index?
                                                          
Local PSAT/NMSQT cutoffs:
Year Students will Graduate
2011
(Actual)
2010

2009

2008
Texas
215
216
215
215
Oklahoma
209
207
208
207
Louisiana
207
207
208
206

As of August 31, 2010, the below national merit finalist cut off scores were posted on Talk Confidential for 2011 NMSQT. (Not all states have been revealed.)

These scores were not confirmed by the National Merit Corporation and are considered unofficial until stated otherwise:

Alabama 211, Arkansas 214, Colorado 214, Florida 211, Georgia 215, Iowa 209, Illinois 218, Indiana 219, Kansas 211, Kentucky 210, Michigan 224, Minnesota 216, Missouri 210, Montanta 208, North Carolina 215, New York 221, Ohio 212, Oklahoma 209, Tennessee 218, Texas 215, 

As other state cut off scores come in, I will update the list.
* PSAT State Scores were verified from the College Planning Simplified.

FREE TIP from LONE STAR ED CONSULTING:
If you are a boarding school student, there are separate boarding school region cutoffs for the PSAT. According to a primary source at the NMSC, the cutoff scores have not been determined yet by the National Merit Scholarship office. Stay tuned for more information.

Related Blogs:
PSAT
SAT
__________________________________________________________________________________


6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this info. The rankings is a good source and reference that I need.

    ReplyDelete
  2. State chart contains last years numbers (Class of 2010.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm curious what the separate boarding school regions are. For example, would a student at a boarding school in New Hampshire have a different cutoff score than a student at a public school in the same state?

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is plausible that a student at a boarding school in new Hampshire would have a different cut off score than a public school in his state.

    ReplyDelete
  5. dang----why did i move from west virginia!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Arkansas scores are never that high. Are you sure its 214 and not 204?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your comment. Your input is greatly appreciated. - College News from Texas - Lauren Kahn, M.A.

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