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National Merit Scores

National Merit Scores: NMS Qualifying Scores by State, Class of 2016

Your child’s junior-year PSAT is not only an excellent opportunity to practice for the SAT—it also allows your child the chance to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Students will take the PSAT in October of their junior year. The following April, approximately 50,000 juniors with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (or total PSAT scores)—roughly the top 3% of junior testers—are notified that they qualify for NMSP recognition. The Selection Index qualifying scores vary from year to year and state to state. Each state’s qualifying score varies based on that state’s percentage of the national total of high school graduating seniors. Students are selected for NMSP recognition from each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

If your child took the PSAT/NMSQT in October of 2014 and received a very high score, he or she may be entered in the 2016 competition for National Merit Scholarships. In late September 2015, 34,000 members of the class of 2016 received Letters of Commendation in recognition of their high 2014 PSAT scores. These students will not continue in the competition and will not be eligible for scholarships.

In September 2015, 16,000 of the highest scoring members of the class of 2016 qualified as semifinalists. These students represent approximately the top 1% of testers in each state. In February 2016, those semifinalists who meet academic and other requirements will advance to Finalist standing. In April of 2016, scholarship winners will be notified.

To see how your child’s score ranks in your state, you can compare his or her scores to the qualifying scores for the current graduating class.

National Merit Scores:


Qualifying Scores by State for the Class of 2016


State Qualifying Score
Alabama 209
Alaska 206
Arizona 215
Arkansas 204
California 223
Colorado 215
Connecticut 220
Delaware 216
District of Columbia 225
Florida 214
Georgia 218
Hawaii 214
Idaho 208
Illinois 215
Indiana 213
Iowa 208
Kansas 213
Kentucky 210
Louisiana 211
Maine 211
Maryland 222
Massachusetts 223
Michigan 210
Minnesota 214
Mississippi 209
State Qualifying Score
Missouri 209
Montana 204
Nebraska 209
Nevada 211
New Hampshire 213
New Jersey 225
New Mexico 208
New York 219
North Carolina 215
North Dakota 202
Ohio 215
Oklahoma 208
Oregon 215
Pennsylvania 217
Rhode Island 212
South Carolina 211
South Dakota 202
Tennessee 212
Texas 220
Utah 206
Vermont 214
Virginia 222
Washington 219
West Virginia 202
Wisconsin 208
Wyoming 202

For the graduating class of 2016, students who scored above a 202 but below the qualifying score for their state received Letters of Commendation, but did not continue on in the scholarship competition.

Related Topics

  • For more information on National Merit Scholarship Qualifications, visit our National Merit Scholarship Qualifications page
  • Want to learn more about the PSAT? Visit our PSAT Test page for information about the test format, question types and scoring.
  • Curious as to how PSAT scoring works? Visit our PSAT Scores page to learn more.

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