National Merit Scholarship Program 2023
The National Merit® Scholarship Program 2023, which began in 1955, is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students enrol in the programme.
How to Enter the Competition
High school students who meet the published programme entry and participation requirements enter the National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) during their junior year. The PSAT/NMSQT for each year is the qualifying test for entry into that year’s competition. For example, the 2020 PSAT/NMSQT is the qualifying exam for entry into the scholarship competition for 2023.
The test is registered for by high school rather than by individual student. Students who are interested should meet with their counsellor at the start of the school year to make arrangements to take the PSAT/NMSQT at the school in the fall.
Please keep in mind that the PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9 will not be considered for admission to the National Merit Scholarship Program. The PSAT/NMSQT is the official entrance exam for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Entry Requirements for Students
- On test day, students are asked a series of questions to determine their eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program. A student must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program:
- take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school programme and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern; be enrolled as a high school student (traditional or homeschooled), progressing normally towards graduation or completion of high school,
- and planning to accept admission to college no later than the fall following high school completion; and attend high school in the United States (see below).
Students attending high school outside of the United States: To be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, a student attending high school outside the United States must be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. lawful resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) who intends to become a U.S. citizen as soon as possible.
When to Take the PSAT/NMSQT
Students who intend to complete four years of high school (grades 9 through 12) before enrolling in college must take the PSAT/NMSQT in their third year (grade 11, junior year). They will enter the competition, which will conclude when awards are presented in the spring of their fourth high school year (grade 12, senior year), the same year they will graduate from high school and begin college.
Although some schools encourage sophomores to take the PSAT/NMSQT for guidance purposes, these students must retake the test as juniors to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program if they are studying in grades 9 through 12.
Students who plan to leave high school a year (or more) early to attend college full-time can usually apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program if they take the PSAT/NMSQT before they graduate. Such students must take the PSAT/NMSQT in either their next-to-last or final year of high school.
Those who take the PSAT/NMSQT in their senior year of high school will be eligible for awards that will be given out as they complete their final year of high school.
Those who take the PSAT/NMSQT in their senior year of high school will be eligible for awards when they finish their first year of college.
To be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, students who are dual enrolled in high school and college must take the PSAT/NMSQT in their third year of high school (grade 11, junior year). The high school determines whether a student is dual enrolled and confirms the student’s enrolment status.
Students who plan to spend five years in grades 9 through 12 before entering college full-time can participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program if they take the PSAT/NMSQT in their third and fourth years of high school. These students’ Selection Index scores will not be eligible for the programme until NMSC® approves a written request for entry into the competition.
The request should include the student’s name, the name and location of the high school, the year the student started high school, the year the student will graduate high school, and a brief explanation of the student’s educational pattern.
To determine the expected level of recognition, NMSC will use the student’s Selection Index score from the PSAT/NMSQT taken in the student’s third year of grades 9 through 12. To be recognised in the fifth (final) year of high school, the student must retake the PSAT/NMSQT in the fourth year and achieve a qualifying Selection Index score equal to or higher than the level achieved on the third year test.
A student’s level of recognition cannot exceed the level earned on the qualifying test taken during the student’s third year in grades 9 through 12, the year in which all other competitors are considered.
Because a student can only compete (and be considered for a scholarship) in one year, the year in which the student takes the PSAT/NMSQT to enter the competition is critical. If a student is unsure whether he or she can participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program because his or her educational plans do not fit one of the preceding descriptions, or for any other reason, contact NMSC right away.
If a Student Fails to Take the PSAT/NMSQT
If a student is unable to take the PSAT/NMSQT due to illness, an emergency, or another extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC programme participation, he or she may still be eligible to compete. To request information about procedures for alternate entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program, the student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration. To be considered, a request must be postmarked by April 1 following the missed PSAT/NMSQT administration. The name and address of the student; the contact information of the person making the request; and the name and address of the student’s high school should all be included in the alternate entry request.
as well as a brief explanation of why the student did not take the PSAT/NMSQT
The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the more likely the student will be able to meet alternate entry requirements. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials, including programme entry instructions and a form that requires the signature of a school official, after receiving and processing the request.
NMSC Receives PSAT/NMSQT Scores
As a test cosponsor, NMSC receives all PSAT/NMSQT scores as well as certain information students provide on their answer sheets. Score Reports are provided to test takers and their schools and show a student’s Selection Index score (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing, and Language, and Math Test scores) as well as whether the student meets the NMSC programme entry requirements. The presence of an asterisk (*) next to the Selection Index score indicates that the student’s scores will not be used for entry. Any error or change in reported information that may affect participation should be immediately reported to NMSC by a school official or the student. The Selection Index scores of students who meet the entry requirements are used to identify high scorers.
The National Merit Scholarship Program recognises approximately 50,000 of the 1.5 million entrants with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing, and Language, and Math Test scores). These high scorers are notified by their schools in September that they have qualified as either Commended Students or Semifinalists.
More than two-thirds (approximately 34,000) of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT receive Letters of Commendation in late September in recognition of their outstanding academic promise.
Commended Students are chosen based on a nationally applied Selection Index score, which varies from year to year and is usually lower than the level required for participants to be named Semifinalists in their respective states. Although Commended Students are not eligible for National Merit Scholarships, some of these students may be eligible for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.
Around 16,000 students, or roughly one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified in early September that they have qualified as Semifinalists. Semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis to ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool. Semifinalists are the top scorers from each state. Qualifying scores vary from state to state and year to year, but all Semifinalists have extremely high scores. Semifinalists receive scholarship application materials from NMSC through their high schools. Semifinalists must advance to Finalist status in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements outlined in the information provided to each Semifinalist in order to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship.View the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program for more information about what Semifinalists must do. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)
Around 15,000 Semifinalists are notified in February that they have advanced to Finalist status. In addition, high school principals are notified and given a Certificate of Merit to present to each Finalist.
Winners are chosen.
Merit Scholarship awardees (Merit Scholar® designees) are chosen from a group of Finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. The Finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curriculum and grading system, PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index score, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the Finalist’s own essay are all available for NMSC to evaluate.
Types of Merit Scholarship Awards 2023
NMSC notifies approximately 7,500 Finalists that they have been chosen to receive a Merit Scholarship® award beginning in March and continuing until mid-June. There are three types of Merit Scholarship awards:
$2500 National Merit Scholarships
Every Finalist is eligible to compete for these single-payment scholarships, which are awarded on a state-by-state basis. A committee of college admission officers and high school counsellors selects the winners without regard to family financial circumstances, college choice, or major and career plans.
Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
Corporate sponsors can designate their awards for children of their employees or members, residents of a community where a company has operations, or Finalists with career plans that the sponsor wants to encourage. These scholarships can be renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study or one-time only.
Merit Scholarships provided by colleges
Finalists who have been accepted for admission and have informed NMSC by the published deadlines that the sponsor college or university is their first choice are chosen by officials from each sponsor college. These scholarships are renewable for a total of four years of undergraduate study.
Merit Scholarships are funded by 400 independent sponsors as well as NMSC’s own funds. Corporations and businesses, company foundations, professional associations, and colleges and universities are examples of sponsoring organisations.
Scholarships for exceptional students
Every year, 1,000 National Merit Program participants who are outstanding but not Finalists receive Special Scholarships from corporations and business organisations. To be considered for a Special Scholarship, students must meet the sponsor’s criteria as well as the National Merit Scholarship Program’s entry requirements. In addition, they must submit an entry form to the sponsoring organisation. Following that, NMSC contacts a pool of high-scoring candidates via their high schools. These students, along with school officials, submit thorough scholarship applications.
The professional staff at NMSC evaluates information about candidates’ abilities, skills, and accomplishments before selecting recipients of the sponsor’s Special Scholarships. These scholarships can be renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study or one-time only.
The PSAT/NMSQT® Student Guide includes a list of corporate organisations that sponsor National Merit Scholarships and/or Special Scholarships.
More information about the PSAT/NMSQT® and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation can be found in the PSAT/NMSQT® Student Guide, which is distributed to high schools prior to the test. The NMSC section describes the National Merit Scholarship Program’s entry requirements, the steps in the competition, and groups of students honoured and scholarships offered.The Test-Taking Help section contains important information about the PSAT/NMSQT, such as test regulations, sample test questions with directions and tips for answering them, and a self-scoring pull-out practise test. The College Board, which co-sponsors the exam, offers additional test-taking information at collegeboard.org.
Public Announcements for the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program
September 15, 2021
April 27, 2023
May 11, 2023
June 1, 2023
College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship® Winners
July 11, 2023
Additional College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship® Winners
Note: NMSC only releases information regarding Semifinalists and scholarship winners to media. Announcements about other program honors, such as Finalist standing, are left to the discretion of each high school.
National Merit Scholarship 2023
Thirteen Valley High School students have been named National Merit Semifinalists for 2023 (09/15/21).
15 September 2021 | West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) is pleased to announce that 13 Valley High School students have been named semifinalists for the 2023 National Merit Scholarship.
Seniors Paul Anderson, Neha Bhargava, Nathaniel Connolly, Noemie Dhont, Mia Dukle, Uma Dukle, Claire Gilbert, Kristin He, Andrew Hedrick, Fynlan Nadel, William Pixley, Malone Trullinger, and Elaine Wang deserve congratulations. The students will now be considered for finalist status for the National Merit Scholarship.
On September 15, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation released the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 67th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
These academically gifted high school seniors will be able to compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be awarded next spring.
Semifinalists must meet several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition in order to be considered for a Merit Scholarship award. Over 90% of semifinalists are expected to advance to finalist status, and roughly half of the finalists will receive a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title. The 2023 National Merit Scholarship recipients will be announced in April and July.
These scholarship recipients could be among the more than 90 National Merit Scholarship finalists who have attended Valley High School in the last decade.