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Chances of becoming a National Merit Scholar?

Cari24Cari24 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
So hears the deal. I really want to become a National Merit Scholar this year. I lnow my PSAT score will need to be over 200. I'm about to begin my junior year. When I took the PSAT sophomore year I was kind of lazy and didn't take it seriously and I didn't do any test prep or anything. I score a 171. My question is, if I take it seriously this year and do the test prep and review my old test do you think I'll likely be able to improve my score about 50 points and become a national merit scholar?

How much did your psat score improve from sophomore year to junior year and what did you do to improve it?

Best test prep books?

Thanks XD
Post edited by Cari24 on

Replies to: Chances of becoming a National Merit Scholar?

  • rspencerspence Posts: 2,118Registered User Senior Member
    NMS is fairly competitive, so you have to make the rest of your application stand out (grades, EC's, work/volunteer, essay). Scoring a 210-220 on PSAT alone won't make the cut.

    I didn't prepare for PSAT at all, got a 192 in my junior year. Oh well. I prepared a bit on the writing/reading sections, got a 2070 on my SAT.
  • ivyhopeful13ivyhopeful13 Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    Since you live in Arizona, check what the previous few year's qualifying scores have been for your state. Prep until you feel you will comfortably meet (or rather exceed) this score. I live in MA which is one of the hardest states to make the cutoff in. I scored a 221 and am really hoping the cutoff drops a point so I make semi-finalist status and have the chance to become a finalist. I've heard the qualifying levels are likely to drop one or two points, so my fingers are crossed for this.

    In terms of best prep books, use SAT books and just ignore the Essay. PSAT books are too short. Use the Official Blue SAT book and Princeton Review. Those are my two favorites. I scored 2320 on the SAT when I took it, so they worked for me.

    Also, don't get too worked up over becoming a Finalist. In fact, you wouldn't ever earn a Finalist status until after you had sent in all applications to college.
  • rspencerspence Posts: 2,118Registered User Senior Member
    Does Cari24 live in Arizona? I live in Arizona but I don't care about PSAT anymore (already graduated).

    Anyway, the cutoff does vary by state. I think AZ's cutoff is somewhere in the 205-210 range; CA might be the hardest.
  • ivyhopeful13ivyhopeful13 Posts: 79Registered User Junior Member
    @rspence,

    Oops sorry! I saw AZ under your information and mistook it for Cari's. MA, DC, and NJ usually have the highest cutoffs. MD and CA follow. Last year they were 223 and 221, respectively.
  • Cari24Cari24 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    Umm I don't live in Arizona? Why does everyone think I live in Arizona? I like in Oklahoma.....
  • perazzimanperazziman Posts: 2,208Registered User Senior Member
    The cut off in Arizona was 213 and Oklahoma 209 last year.

    Cari, my son increased his PSAT score by more than 45 points from sophomore to junior year. He should make NMSF in Texas where the cut off was 219 last year. So, I think you have a pretty good shot making NMSF in Oklahoma.
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    My daughter jumped from 201 to 229 from sophomore to junior year with a little prep.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that you want to be healthy the day of the test. Take care of yourself in the fall and try to get some of your application preparation done this summer. Good luck.
  • gomdorrigomdorri Posts: 713Registered User Member
    Scoring a 210-220 on PSAT alone won't make the cut.

    ^ Not really lol. It depends on the state you live in. My state is ranked (I /think/) close to last so the qualifying is only a 205 or something.

    And to the question, yes. I'm an upcoming junior as well. I scored a 155 and a 189 on my 9th/10th grade PSAT respectively. I studied during June, took a couple practice tests, and scored in the 230-240 range. It's definitely possible.

    To improve, take tons of practice tests. (I try to take one or two every week and then go over every question, regardless of whether I got the question right or wrong). Best book is, obviously, the Official SAT Study Guide 2nd edition, since it's released by collegeboard. For CR, make vocab lists. For math, know some shortcuts but other then that, just learn how to be creative and meticulous with your work. For writing, know rules (eg parallelism, subject/verb agreement, nominative/objective case, idioms, etc) and then just practice.

    But like I said, take lots of practice tests. Taking practice tests (SATs or PSATs) is what got me from a 1500 project score to the 2300's and a 2400 on my last practice test (that's excluding the essay though lolol. Still working on that hah)
  • MD MomMD Mom Posts: 6,728Registered User Senior Member
    No essay on PSAT unless something has changed.
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