How To Qualify As A National Merit Scholar Opportunity in 2023

Becoming a nationally recognized scholar is an impressive accomplishment that can open doors to remarkable opportunities.

In 2023, the National Merit Scholar program continues to provide an avenue for outstanding students to showcase their academic prowess and get reward for their hard work.

In this article, we will explore how you can qualify as a nationally recognized scholar, offering insights and guidance to help you pursue this prestigious honor.

Let’s delve into the exciting world of the National Merit Scholar program and discover the steps you can take to seize this exceptional opportunity.

What is the National Merit Scholar Program?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an esteemed initiative that aims to recognize and reward exceptional high school students across the United States.

Administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), this program identifies students who demonstrate outstanding academic achievements and potential for success in college and beyond.

Each year, thousands of students compete for the coveted title of National Merit Scholar. This esteemed program provides recognition, scholarships, and opportunities for students to further their education and reach their full potential.

Now, let’s explore the key components and features of the National Merit Scholarship Program to qualify you to be a nationally recognized scholar.

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Who is Eligible to Participate?

To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program, students must meet specific eligibility criteria.

Any high school student planning to enroll in college after graduation can take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) and potentially qualify for the program.

Now, let’s explore the eligibility requirements in more detail to understand who can participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

High School Enrollment

To be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program, students must enroll as high school students, typically in their junior year. This means that both public and private school students, as well as homeschooled students, have the opportunity to participate.

Moving forward, let’s discuss the academic requirements necessary to qualify for the program.

Academic Achievement

To be eligible, students must demonstrate exceptional academic achievement. They evaluate students through their performance on the PSAT/NMSQT. It is important to note that they take PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of the student’s junior year.

Now, let’s explore the specifics of the PSAT/NMSQT scores and the required performance to be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program.


To qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, students must achieve high scores on the PSAT/NMSQT. The specific score requirements vary from year to year and are determined by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

These scores serve as the initial benchmark for eligibility and are used to identify National Merit Semifinalists.

Moving on, let’s discuss the citizenship and residency requirements for participation.

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Citizenship and Residency

To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program, students must be citizens of United States or lawful permanent residents. Students with citizenship from other countries are not eligible for the program.

It is essential to meet these citizenship and residency requirements before they consider you for National Merit Scholar recognition.

Now that we have discussed the general eligibility requirements, let’s explore any additional factors that could impact a student’s participation.

Additional Factors

While the National Merit Scholarship Program primarily focuses on academic achievements, it is essential to note that other factors may influence a student’s eligibility.

These factors can include academic misconduct, disciplinary issues, or violations of the NMSC’s rules and regulations. Students must maintain a strong academic and ethical standing to remain eligible for the program.

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How Do They Score PSAT/NMSQT?

A nationally recognized scholar must score high in the PSAT/NMSQT.

The PSAT/NMSQT is scored based on the number of correct answers given by test-takers. Each correct answer contributes to the raw score, which is then converted into a scaled score.

Let’s delve into the details of how the PSAT/NMSQT is scored.

Multiple-Choice Questions

The PSAT/NMSQT consists of multiple-choice questions across two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math. Each correct answer in these sections earns the test-taker points.

Now, let’s discuss the scoring specifics for each section.

Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW)

The EBRW section includes reading comprehension passages and grammar-related questions. The raw score for this section is determined by the number of correct answers, with one point awarded for each correct response.

Moving on to the Math section.


The Math section assesses the test-takers quantitative reasoning skills. Similar to the EBRW section, they award one point for each correct answer, contributing to the raw score for the Math section.

Once they calculate the raw scores, they convert them into scaled scores.

Scaled Scores

They convert the raw scores for the EBRW and Math sections into scaled scores ranging from 160 to 760 for each section. The total scaled score is the sum of the scaled scores for both sections and ranges from 320 to 1520.

In addition to the scaled scores, students also receive subscores and percentiles.


The PSAT/NMSQT provides subscores for different skill areas within the EBRW and Math sections. These subscores give students insights into their strengths and weaknesses in specific content areas.


The percentile rank indicates how a student’s score compares to other test-takers. For example, if a student has a percentile rank of 75, it means they performed better than 75% of the test-takers.

How do They Select Students as National Merit Scholars?

The selection process for National Merit Scholars involves a comprehensive evaluation of various factors, including academic performance, extracurricular involvement, leadership roles, and community service.

To understand how they choose students as National Merit Scholars, let’s delve into the key components of the selection process.

Firstly, the PSAT/NMSQT serves as the initial qualifying factor for becoming a nationally recognized scholar. Students who achieve high scores on this test are designated as National Merit Semifinalists.

However, being a Semifinalist is not the final step. There are additional requirements that students must fulfill to advance in the selection process.

What Happens After Being a Semifinalist?

Semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application, including information about their academic achievements, extracurricular involvements, and leadership roles. They must also provide an essay describing their goals, accomplishments, and aspirations.

The next phase involves the endorsement of the student’s academic institution.

Semifinalists must be endorsed by their high school principal or an official designated by the school. This endorsement confirms the student’s outstanding academic performance and recommends them for further consideration.

Following the endorsement, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) reviews the applications and evaluates various factors to select the finalists.

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How do they Select Finalists?

The NMSC considers academic records, including the student’s GPA, transcript, and rigorous coursework. They also review the student’s involvement in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, arts, or community service. Demonstrated leadership roles and contributions to the community play a significant role in the selection process as well.

Additionally, the NMSC assesses the student’s essays to gain insights into their personal achievements, goals, and aspirations.

Based on this comprehensive evaluation, the NMSC selects a group of finalists from the pool of Semifinalists. These finalists are the highest-scoring students in each state, representing the top achievers in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Finally, they choose the National Merit Scholars from the group of finalists based on the availability of scholarships and the overall competitiveness of the applicants.

The NMSC awards National Merit Scholarships to students who have demonstrated exceptional academic accomplishments, leadership qualities, and a commitment to community service.

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What Benefits Do National Merit Scholars Receive?

Nationally recognized scholars receive a range of benefits and opportunities that recognize their academic excellence and open doors for their future endeavors.

Let’s explore the key benefits that National Merit Scholars can enjoy.

Financial Rewards

National Merit Scholars have access to prestigious scholarships, including corporate-sponsored and college-sponsored scholarships. These scholarships provide financial assistance to help alleviate the burden of college expenses.

In addition to financial rewards, nationally recognized scholars receive recognition from esteemed colleges and universities.

College Admission

Naming a student a National Merit Scholar enhances their chances of admission to top-tier institutions. The distinction serves as a testament to their academic prowess and dedication.

Furthermore, nationally recognized scholars gain access to exclusive academic and career opportunities.

Special Programs

Many colleges and universities offer special programs, honors colleges, and priority course registration to National Merit Scholars. These programs provide enhanced academic experiences and networking opportunities.

Nationally recognized scholars also enjoy recognition and accolades beyond their high school years.

Prestige and Honor

Naming you a National Merit Scholar brings prestige and honor within academic and professional circles. It distinguishes scholars as exceptional students and scholars, setting them apart from their peers.

Moreover, nationally recognized scholars become part of a distinguished community.

Networking and Support

National Merit Scholars have the opportunity to connect with a network of like-minded individuals who share their academic drive and aspirations. This network can provide support, mentorship, and valuable connections throughout their educational and professional journey.

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Important Notice and Dates

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2023. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.

About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 180 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located.

In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

They will announce the National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 368,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

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What does it mean to be a nationally recognized scholar?

Being a nationally recognized scholar refers to achieving significant recognition for one’s academic achievements and contributions on a national level. It signifies that institutions, organizations, or experts at the national level have acknowledged and esteemed your accomplishments.

How can I qualify as a National Merit Scholar?

To qualify as a National Merit Scholar, you must take the PSAT/NMSQT and achieve high scores. The specific score requirements vary each year and are determined by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Meeting other eligibility criteria, such as citizenship and residency requirements, is also necessary.

When should I take the PSAT/NMSQT?

They administer PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of your junior year of high school. It is important to check with your school or the NMSC for the specific test dates and registration details.

Can international students participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program?

No, international students are not eligible to participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program. To qualify, students must be U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Is being a National Merit Scholar a lifelong recognition?

While being a National Merit Scholar is a prestigious accomplishment, the recognition primarily pertains to high school and college years. However, the benefits and opportunities that come with being a National Merit Scholar can have a lasting impact on a student’s educational and professional journey.


Becoming a nationally recognized scholar through the National Merit Scholarship Program is an incredible achievement that opens doors to numerous opportunities.

By understanding the requirements, preparing diligently, and showcasing your academic excellence and leadership qualities, you can position yourself as a strong candidate for this prestigious honor.

Remember, it’s not just about the recognition and scholarships; it’s about the personal growth and the lifelong benefits that accompany this remarkable achievement.

Start your journey today, and seize the opportunity to become a nationally recognized scholar in 2023!



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