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The application is done entirely online, and may be accessed only by using the code included in the letter to the high school principal.Students and parents alike agonize over delays in gaining access to the secret code and hence the application.
Other principals reasonably but erroneously believe that students have already received the news at their home addresses. In this age of Internet forums and homeschoolers, however, the state-by-state cutoff scores tend to leak out.
Homeschool “principals” who received the Semifinalist letters at their homes, and those seniors whose principals already shared the news, post their qualifying scores, or their heartbreaking just-misses, to online forums.
This is of course a great honor, but a disappointment to many students, particularly to students who scored 221 in New Jersey, knowing that they would be Semifinalists in the other 49 states.
While the score required to progress to semifinalist varies from state to state, The letter sent by NMSC to high school principals in early September names the Semifinalists, and provides important login information Semifinalists need in order to complete the online application for Finalist.
The letter advises principals the news may be shared only with the students and their families, not anyone else, including media sources, until a later date.
Many principals choose to withhold the information from the anxious students, however, until the date the information may be made public.Like the score required for Commended Students, the Semifinalist cutoff fluctuates year to year.But unlike the Commended Student cutoff score (209 for the class of 2017), which is the same for all students nationwide, the score required to progress to Semifinalist depends on the state in which the student attends high school.But for others it is the opening bell for two years of anxiety also known as the National Merit Scholarship competition. The PSAT/NMSQT (let’s just call it the PSAT) is the initial hurdle students must clear on the way to becoming National Merit Scholars.Scores are sent in December to the student’s high school. Update: Students who took the October 2017 test should be able to get their scores in mid-December from the College Board. In April, high school principals are notified which, if any, of their students are among the top scoring 50,000 juniors nationwide.In early September of their senior year, they will be notified by, you guessed it, their high school principals.At this point, of the top scoring 50,000 students, the 34,000 students who are not named Semifinalists are officially National Merit Commended Students.This means that there are no Commended Students in the class of 2017 in those four states, but don’t expect complaints from those students, as they have all progressed to Semifinalist.Approximately 16,000 students will meet or exceed their state’s cutoff score, and will therefore be named Semifinalists.The principals are asked to confirm that those students are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship competition.These 50,000 students will continue in the competition. The score required to rank in the top 50,000 fluctuates year to year.