Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

Taking the PSAT Enters You into a Scholarship Competition

Michelle Hartwell -

college admissions expert advice from eprep.comJust a little FYI here. The actual name of the PSAT is PSAT/NMSQT - The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. When you take the PSAT in your junior year of high school, you are also entered into the running for a scholarship sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

The way it works is that after taking the PSAT, your scores are sent to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, and if your scores meet certain requirements, your name is ushered into a group of candidates. The top 50,000 scores (out of around 1.4 million) are reviewed, and then 16,000 of those will be notified the following September that they have been named semifinalists and are given a detailed scholarship application to complete.

Eventually, 8,200 of the finalists become Merit Scholars based on:

  • Academic records
  • PSAT scores
  • SAT scores
  • Written recommendations
  • Extra curricular activities

In the March of your senior year, the NMSC will begin notifying winners of the three types of Merit Scholarship awards:

  • National Merit $2500.00 Scholarships
  • Corporate-sponsored scholarships
  • College-sponsored scholarships

Of note - sophomores taking the PSAT are not eligible for the scholarship. The running is only open to eleventh graders taking the PSAT.

More about NMSC
Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC’s goals have remained constant since its inception:

  • To identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students
  • To stimulate increased support for their education
  • To provide efficient and effective scholarship program management for organizations that wish to sponsor college undergraduate scholarships

Since its founding, NMSC has recognized 3 million students and provided some 324,000 scholarships worth over $1.2 billion.

National Merit Scholarship Organization
The College Board

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