National Merit Scholarship Program
The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships, and approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year.
Students are entered into the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which typically occurs in the fall of their junior year. The preliminary test serves as an initial screen of program entrants, and the PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores determine the 50,000 high-scoring participants who qualify for program recognition. Of those 50,000 students, approximately 34,000 are named commended students, and 16,000 are selected as semifinalists. Nearly 95 percent of semifinalists are named finalists each year.
College Board National Recognition Program
The College Board National Recognition Program, an expansion of the former National Hispanic Recognition Program, recognizes and honors students from African American, Hispanic or Latinx, and Indigenous backgrounds for their academic achievement. To be considered for recognition, students must: (1) take the preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) in October of their sophomore or junior year, (2) achieve the minimum requested PSAT/NMSQT score, and (3) earn a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher. Students awarded this National Recognition can include their honors in college and scholarship applications.