Parents FAQs: PSAT/NMSQT

FAQs

How does a student qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program?

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual competition for high school students (both traditional and homeschooled) planning to attend college. Students need to take the PSAT/NMSQT, usually in their junior year, to be eligible for scholarships and recognition through the program. Taking the PSAT 8/9 or the PSAT 10 won't qualify students for the program.

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Is the PSAT/NMSQT free?

No, but many students don't have to pay. Some schools cover all or part of that amount. Others charge test administration fees. Talk to your child's school counselor about PSAT/NMSQT fees.

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How do students sign up to take the PSAT/NMSQT?

Students sign up at their high school, not through the College Board. Your child should talk to their school counselor in September to learn about their school's PSAT/NMSQT registration process.

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Can ninth graders take the PSAT/NMSQT?

Yes, but they won't be eligible to enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program. The PSAT/NMSQT is designed for 10th and 11th graders.

Some schools offer the PSAT 8/9, which tests the same skills as the PSAT/NMSQT, but in ways that are appropriate for earlier grade levels. Check with your child's school counselor to see if your school offers the PSAT 8/9.

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How is the PSAT/NMSQT different from the PSAT 10 and PSAT 8/9?

The PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 are identical. 11th graders (and some 10th graders) take the PSAT/NMSQT in October. The PSAT 10 is given to 10th graders in the spring. Only the PSAT/NMSQT qualifies students to enter the National Merit® Scholarship Competition.

The PSAT 8/9 measures the same skills and knowledge as the other PSAT-related tests, but it's geared to eighth and ninth graders. It serves as a baseline to measure students' progress as they move through high school.

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Does the PSAT/NMSQT have an essay?

No, the PSAT/NMSQT does not have an essay.

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What do the PSAT/NMSQT scores mean?

For detailed information on PSAT/NMSQT scores and what they mean, visit Understanding Scores or watch our Understanding Your PSAT/NMSQT Scores video.

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