National Merit Scholarship: What if You Missed the PSAT?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students were unable to take the PSAT in October. The College Board offered a second test date in January, but with rising case numbers, some students were also unable to take advantage of this additional test date.

Can I still compete for the National Merit Scholarship if I didn’t get to take the PSAT this year?

Yes! The National Merit Scholarship Corporation offers alternate entry for the scholarship competition. Students who did not take the PSAT on EITHER test date may submit SAT scores in lieu of PSAT scores.

First, students must complete the Alternate Entry Form available on the NMSC website by April 1, 2021.

Next, students must take the SAT by June 2021 and request that the College Board send official scores to NMSC.

Learn more about Alternate Entry here.

How will the NMSC compare PSAT scores and SAT scores to determine scholarship eligibility?

When determining scholarship eligibility, the NMSC calculates a Selection Index. For students taking the PSAT, the Selection Index is the sum of the student’s test scores for reading, writing, and math multiplied by two. On the PSAT, the maximum test score for each section is 38, but on the SAT, the maximum test score for each section is 40. To account for this difference in scoring, the NMSC will cap SAT scores at a maximum of 38 for each section.

What can students do to maximize their chances to earn the National Merit Scholarship if they intend to apply through Alternate Entry?

Students applying through Alternate Entry have an advantage because they have multiple chances to take the SAT and boost their scores. If you are applying for the scholarship through Alternate Entry, you should begin preparing for the SAT now and plan to take the test at least twice before the June 2021 deadline. This will offer you the best chance to earn a top test score.

Can students apply for Alternate Entry if they already took the PSAT in October or January?

No. Alternate Entry is only available to students who did not take the test in October or January. It is intended to allow students who could not test at school the opportunity to compete for this prestigious scholarship.

Learn more about the National Merit Scholarship here. For tips on preparing for the SAT, check out these great resources:

COLLEGE ROADMAP

FRESHMAN

Start preparing for the PSAT so that you can compete for the National Merit Scholarship in your junior year.

SOPHOMORE

Start preparing for the PSAT so that you can compete for the National Merit Scholarship in your junior year.

JUNIOR

If you missed the PSAT, submit an Alternate Entry Form by April 1, 2021.

Prepare for and take the SAT by June 2021.

Request that the College Board send your scores to NMSC.

SENIOR

If you’ve been identified as a Semifinalist, be sure to meet all deadlines to continue in the scholarship competition.