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Encyclopedia > National Merit

The PSAT/NMSQT, or "Preliminary-SAT"/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is a Multiple choice is a type of form to be filled out by checking one or more of the choices in a list. It is used in education (for testing), in elections (choose between multiple candidates, parties, or policies), in market research, and many more things. Its use in educational fields... multiple choice Originally a standardized test was simply a standard test – of academic achievement or of knowledge in a specific academic or vocational domain. It has since acquired the meaning of a written test whose scores are interpreted by reference to the scores of a norm group which has taken the... standardized test generally taken by high school juniors, sophomores, and freshmen in the United States. It is a shorter version of the There are several ways for a human being to sit. Contents // Categories: Human skills | Stub ... SAT. An estimated 1.3 million students took the test in 2004. The test is administered by the The Educational Testing Service (or ETS) is the worlds largest private educational testing and measurement organization, operating on a annual budget of approximately $900 million. ETS develops various standardized examinations primarily in the United States, but they also administer tests such as TOEFL in most nations. Many of the... Educational Testing Service (ETS) for the The College Board is a non-profit examination board in the USA, comprised of over 4,500 institutions of higher learning. It is known principally for managing standardized tests such as the SAT, PSAT, CLEP and the subject-specific SAT II and AP tests. The SAT, the most well known... College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).


The test and scores

The test is composed of three sections: Mathematics is commonly defined as the study of patterns of structure, change, and space; more informally, one might say it is the study of figures and numbers. Mathematical knowledge is constantly growing, through research and application, but mathematics itself is not usually considered a natural science. One reason is that... Mathematics, Broadly conceived, linguistics is the study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. The study of linguistics can be thought of along three major axes, the endpoints of which are described below: Synchronic and diachronic - Synchronic study of a language is concerned with its... Critical Reading, and Writing is the process of inscribing characters on a medium, with the intention of forming words and other larger language constructs. The instrument or instruments used for recording, and the medium on which the recording is done can be almost infinite, and can be done by any instrument capable of... Writing. Each section is worth 80 points, which add up to a maximum composite score of 240 points. The PSAT scores are graded on a similar scale to the There are several ways for a human being to sit. Contents // Categories: Human skills | Stub ... SAT test. Each section is scored on a scale of 20 to 80 points (lower scores are possible, but are discarded). Each section on the SAT is graded on a scale of 200 to 800, allowing a PSAT score to predict a comparable SAT score (the difference is mainly to help distinguish from which test a score comes). However, unlike the New SAT (2005), the New PSAT does not include higher-level math (i.e. concepts from Algebra 2) or an essay in its writing section (the section is new to the SAT in 2005). The addition of the three scores is known as the Selection Index and is used, along with four general criteria for eligibility, to determine preliminary selection in the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

National Merit Scholarship Program

The scores from the PSAT are also used (with the permission of the student) to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. In addition to the score, a student must be either a Junior on a four-year graduation program or in the second year of a three-year graduation program, be a citizen of the United States, and be graduating in the year two years after they take the test (i.e., for the 2004 exam the student must graduate in 2006). However, for three-year graduates, there is a slightly more complicated and ambiguous set of selection criteria.

The first recognized category, with a general Selection Index cutoff of around 200-204 is Commended Scholars and comprises about 34,000 of the top 50,000 students. The highest scorers in this group (generally a Selection Index of 214-218) are designated National Merit-Semifinalists. This group numbers around 16,000.However, designations are made on the basis of equitable state representation. Therefore, each state has different cutoff scores.

With the exception of about 1000 students, all Semifinalists advance to Finalist standings based on external (non PSAT score based) qualifications, which in the past have included items such as explicit application for finalist designation, principal recommendation, etc. Finalists are eligible to receive National Merit Scholarship awards.

To achieve National Merit Scholar recognition, the NMSC uses many detailed criteria which are outside the margin of test scores. These may include volunteer participation, teacher recommendations, and high school grades and the rigor of courses taken, among other qualifications. For the 15,000 Finalists, there will be about 8,200 merit awards: about 2,500 finalists receive a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship from the NMSC for use at a college in the United States (these winners are awarded on a state-by-state basis, like Semifinalist designation). There are 4,600 scholarships awarded by colleges which the recipients have reported to NMSC as their first choice ("College-Sponsored Merit Awards"). Around another 2,700 scholarships are awarded to Finalists by corporate sponsors, who often have additional qualification criteria- usually that the Finalist is the son, daughter, or other close relative (e.g niece or nephew) of an employee of the sponsor. Those Finalists who do not qualify will receive a certificate of recognition for their accomplishments. In addition, around 1,600 participants who were not chosen as Finalists will receive Special Scholarships provided by corporate sponsors.

In a small number of cases, because the NMSC only awards scholarships to students attending colleges in the United States, a very small number of National Merit Scholars sometimes lose their scholarship awards. If this is the case the student is not given a scholarship but is instead designated an Honorary Merit Scholar, which acknowledges achievement without any financial assistance; similarly, students who qualify as both National Acheivement or National Hispanic Scholars and also National Merit Scholars may only receive the monetary award from one scholarship but can still claim the other as an accomplishment.

National Achievement Scholarship Program

Around 120,000 black students who fill in the Section 14 oval on their answer document and achieve high scores on their PSAT will enter a separate NMSC competition known as the National Achievement Scholarship Program. The subsequent designations are similar to that in the National Merit Scholarship Program and are as follows:

Of 120,000 entrants:

3,000 students are referred to colleges for academic achievement

Cheating and fairness

Most students in a classroom will have exactly the same test, but because of the nature of the test, and specific rules concerning seating of the students, the chances for success of cheating are low. However, if a group of students worked together to actively cheat, the computer grading the exams would likely catch them in the act- because it is set to evaluate answer patterns for irregularities such as several scores in one class with the exact same questions wrong.

To be fair, there is a significant problem with proctors and calculators. The testing administrator is supposed to make sure the memory of the calculator is cleared for the math section of the exam (it is supposed to be put away on the other sections) but this is rarely done in practice.

External links

  • The College Board (http://www.collegeboard.com/)
  • PSAT page from The College Board (http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/about.html)
  • National Merit Scholarship Corporation (http://www.nationalmerit.org/)



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