National Merit Scholarship Program for commended students


The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic scholarship competition for high school students every year. Specifically, it’s for US-based high school students and high school students for the betterment of their studies. The program is since 1955 old for the students. 

We cover all of the eligibility requirements later in this post so if you are interested in winning the national merit scholarship see all the detail.

What is the PSAT/NMSQT? 

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a multiple-choice standardized exam that tests your knowledge in math, evidence-based reading, and writing for the competition of winning a national scholarship.


Instead, the NSMC will be looking at your selection index score for the national merit scholarship, which will be between 48-228 so make sure you fall in this criteria.



How Are National Merit Scholarship Recipients Chosen?

After all of the PSAT/NMSQT exams have been taken and scored by the students, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) selects around 50,000 students for the program with the highest scores to become commended students or semifinalists so most of them went in the Semitists.

Commended Students

Commended students make up around 34,000 of the 50,000 selected students in the national merit scholarship program. If you land in this bracket of students this is a big achievement for any student, you’ll receive recognition for your killer exam scores and academic promise in the next steps. Unfortunately, though, you don’t get to continue in the competition so never lose hope and try again for the national merit scholarship.



Semifinalists, on the other hand, make up the remaining 16,000 students which are now getting prepared for the finalists. To make sure all US states are represented among the semifinalists, the NSMC selects students on a state-representational basis for the national scholarship.

ALSO, SEE:  The Scholarship of unbanked university | United States


To advance from a semifinalist to one of the 15,000 finalists which are most talented students, you’ll need to meet some requirements in addition to your test scores for the national scholarship.

According to the 2020-21 instructions and requirements for semifinalists, to advance from semifinalist to finalist standing you’ll need to so see all this:

  • Continue to meet the program entry requirements (listed in the next section)  for the national scholarship
  • commonwealths and territories for the students or, meet the citizenship requirements for students attending high school outside the United States for the national scholarship
  • Be fully endorsed for Finalist standing and recommended for a National Merit Scholarship by your high school principal (or school official designated by the principal) for the national scholarship.


National Merit Scholarship Winners

The approximately 7,600 National Merit Scholars are chosen from the pool of Finalists in this program.

  • Your academic record is needed for the next step.
  • Information about your school’s curriculum and grading system is needed for the next step.
  • Your PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index Score is needed for the next step.
  • Your high school official’s written recommendation is needed for the next step.
  • Information about your extracurricular activities and leadership is needed for the next step.
  • Your scholarship application essay is needed for the next step.

ALSO, SEE: PTDF Scholarship 2023-2024

National Merit Scholarship Eligibility Requirements

With 1.5 million students entering the National Scholarship Program every year in the USA.

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12 for the scholarships
  • Be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning for the scholarship.
  • Be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) for the scholarship.

How Much Are National Merit Scholarships Worth?

If you’re chosen as one of the 7,6000 winners, you’ll receive one of the following scholarships, worth at least $2,500 which is a lot amount at that stage:

  • National Merit Scholarships for students
  • Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships for students
  • College-Sponsored Merit Scholarships for students

The National Merit Scholarships are the scholarships available to all winners after the tasks. They’re worth $2,500 and are only good for one year for the students.

The Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarships are for the winners who are:

  • Are children of a participating company’s employees or members of this program
  • Reside in the participating company’s community in this program
  • Have career plans related to the participating company in this program

ALSO, SEE: University of Stuttgart Scholarships 2023-24 | Fully Funded

National Merit Scholarship Timeline

October: You take the PSAT/NMSQT (typically in your junior year) for the scholarship

May: The NMSC announces the 50,000 commended students  for the scholarship

September: The NMSC announces the 16,000 semi-finalists who will then need to complete the National Merit Semifinalist Application  for the scholarship

February: The NMSC announces the 15,000 finalists for the scholarship

March-May: The NSMC announces the 7,600 National Scholarship winners for the scholarship

5 Tips to Improve Your Chances of Winning a National Merit Scholarship

  • Work on Your English and Math Test-Taking Skills for the scholarship
  • Maintain a GPA of at least 3.5 or better for the scholarship
  • Stay committed to extracurricular activities for the scholarship
  • Maintain positive relationships with your principal and other school officials for the scholarship
  • Writing an excellent scholarship essay for the scholarship
  • Where to Find More Scholarships  for the scholarship

Also, See: SNU Scholarship in South Korea 2023 | Fully Funded


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