PSAT National Merit Cutoff Calculator

Final update (for now): As readers have rightfully pointed out, The College Board percentile data that’s been released is meaningless in terms of evaluating this year’s students because they base it on last year’s performance. Therefore, my prior analysis, which predicted a high jump in cutoffs, is invalid. Thanks to all of you who patiently cleared this up for me and I wish I had realized this before sounding the alarm. I think we can all agree The College Board needs to be more transparent in how they come up with their numbers. The good news is that the calculator below is once again currently the best predictor of what the cutoffs will be. Best of luck!

1. Calculate your Selection Index (SI) if you don’t know it

Your Selection Index is the number that’s used to determine whether you qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

You can find your Selection Index by looking in your PSAT Score Report or by using the calculator below.

Your Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Score (160 to 760):
Your Math Score (160 to 760):

Your NMSC Selection Index (48 to 228):


2. Determine whether you’ll be commended

Students who meet or exceed the commended cutoff for their year receive a Letter of Commendation at the very least.

Unlike the semifinalist cutoffs, the commended cutoff is nationwide and does not vary by state.

Out of 1.5 million entrants, only 50,000 are considered high scorers, from which only 34,000 are commended.

Old PSATNew PSAT
Class of{{year}}
Commended SI Cutoff
Converted Cutoff*{{score}}

*Converted Cutoffs are old-PSAT cutoffs from past years translated to the current PSAT scale. They give you an apples-to-apples way of predicting future cutoffs. These converted cutoffs were calculated from the official College Board concordance tables. Just keep in mind that these are just estimates. We continually adjust our algorithm as more data becomes available.


3. Determine whether you’ll be a Semifinalist

Select Your State:

Semifinalist status is determined on a per-state basis.

You’ll find out whether you qualify as a semifinalist in late September.

Only 16,000 of the 34,000 commended students make it to this step. However, there is still the finalist round to get through before any scholarships are given. Whether you get through the finalist round depends on other criteria. Full details can be found on the official site.

Old PSATNew PSAT
Class of{{year}}
Semifinalist SI Cutoff
Converted Cutoff*{{score}}
Our Past Prediction{{projection}}

How Accurate Are We?

In 2017

  • {{calculator.getSuccessRate(2017, 0)}}% of the semifinalist cutoffs matched up exactly with the calculator’s prediction. Not bad when you’re predicting for 50 states + DC.
  • {{calculator.getSuccessRate(2017, 1)}}% of the cutoffs were within 1 point of the calculator’s prediction.
  • {{calculator.getSuccessRate(2017, 2)}}% of the cutoffs were within 2 points of the calculator’s prediction.
  • {{calculator.getSuccessRate(2017, 3)}}% of the cutoffs were within 3 points of the calculator’s prediction.

 
 

88 thoughts on “PSAT National Merit Cutoff Calculator

  1. Has college board officially announced that 209 is the cut off for commended for 2017? This is the first I’ve seen that stated as a fact (as opposed to an educated guess) and want to confirm that it is accurate. Thank you!!!

    • Yes, it is accurate. The College Board does not publicly announce the number when it is released. Instead, it’s reported through the schools so that commended students are notified.

  2. Hi, I was just wondering how you reached these estimates. The PrepScholar blog has also predicted the semifinalist cutoff for Texas, but it is 217, not 219. They said that they based their estimates on last year’s cutoffs, but I know you used a similar method as well. My score was 217, so I desperately want to believe that it will be the cutoff, but I’m aware of how high the Class of 2016’s cutoff was (220!).
    Is there any way that Prepscholar could be correct, or will I have to accept my fate? Thank you so much.

    • Whoops, sorry, the converted cutoff for the Class of 2016 is 219, not 220.
      Perhaps Prepscholar was using the converted cutoff for the Class of 2015?

    • Hi Catherine, I based my estimates off of the past several years, not just last year, so perhaps that accounts for the differences between my estimates and those on other sites.

      It’s definitely possible for the cutoff to be 217. The New PSAT is sort of a wild card and I’m sure there will be some surprises in the results. Remember that these are just estimates and there is no way to know for sure until the official cutoffs are announced. In short, hope for the best but realize your score is on the border.

  3. Is the cutoff – 221 for California the official results? When will the students who have scored above 209 but not meeting the cutoff receive the commendation letter?

    Thanks

    • Yes, 221 is the official result for the Class of 2017. If you’re commended, you’ll typically receive an official notification in late September. In other words, you should know by now if you’re in the class of 2017. If you’re in the class of 2018, you’ll have to wait ’til September.

  4. I have some question about your statement. “Once you’re a semifinalist, you’re guaranteed a $2,500 scholarship.”
    My daughter is a semifinalist, actually she is a finalist. But she never got $2,500 scholarship. At least we didn’t get any email to regarding to this scholarship. How can this scholarship be found?

    • Sorry, that statement is actually incorrect and will be edited. You only qualify for the scholarship once you’re a finalist. Out of 15,000 finalists, half of them will receive some type of scholarship. Your daughter will find out from March to mid-June. Full details can be found here.

  5. I am a bit confused about the cutoffs. My daughter just got her scores back. She is class of 2018. Her Selection Index is 211. The Florida cutoff prediction is significantly lower than the national cutoff for 2016 (200-204) vs the national cutoff of 209. What exactly does this mean for her? She was extremely sick the day she took the test … its remarkable that she scored so well. The results sheet predicts that she will make perfect scores on her SAT test. Pretty cool!!!

    • Hi Jackie, I’m not sure where you’re reading these numbers for Florida. We have not made any predictions for the class of 2018 yet. The commended cutoff for the class of 2017 was 209. The semifinalist cutoff for Florida was 217. Using those numbers from last year, your daughter is likely to get commended but very unlikely to be a semifinalist. That being said, 211 is a great score and I congratulate your daughter. Nothing will be announced for the class of 2018 until September, so you will have to wait until then for anything to be official.
      EDIT: I no longer recommend judging scores based on last year’s cutoffs. All signs in the data point to higher cutoffs this year.

  6. My daughter also received her score today. Her index is 223. She is Class of 2018 and we live in Georgia. I am just reading up and trying to understand what this means exactly. Do you have any idea where this might fall? I see predictions for other years, but not for Class of 2018. Thanks!

    • Wow, 223 is a great score. We haven’t made any predictions for the class of 2018, but judging from the class of 2017 (219 was the semifinalist cutoff), I think it’s safe to say your daughter will be recognized by the National Merit Program. Not only will your daughter be commended but she is also nearly guaranteed to reach semifinalist status, which will grant her the opportunity to get a $2500 scholarship.
      EDIT: I no longer recommend judging scores based on last year’s cutoffs. All signs in the data point to higher cutoffs this year.

    • You’ll get commended but semis is unlikely :(
      EDIT: I no longer recommend judging scores based on last year’s cutoffs. All signs in the data point to higher cutoffs this year.

  7. Hello! My daughter (class of 2018) lives in Illinois and received a 221. Last year’s cut off was 219, but it seems the cut-offs for Illinois have been rising rather quickly in the past few years. Is there any way she will be able to become a semi-finalist come next September? Thanks!

    • There’s a very good chance she’ll make semifinalist. Even if the cutoffs for Illinois have been increasing, your daughter beat last year’s cutoff by 2 points, which is a much bigger deal than it sounds.
      EDIT: I no longer recommend judging scores based on last year’s cutoffs. All signs in the data point to higher cutoffs this year.

  8. My child scored an index of 216. We live in PA. Do you think she will be a commended scholar? What do you think the possibility of being a semi finalist will be?

    • She will definitely be a commended scholar. It’s possible she gets to the semifinalist round but the chances are small.
      EDIT: I no longer recommend judging scores based on last year’s cutoffs. All signs in the data point to higher cutoffs this year.

  9. Hey. I am in class of 2018 and just received my PSAT scores. I got a 220 and live in North Carolina. How good are my chances for making semifinalist?

  10. Reading above it looks like commended is probably a 209. Just making sure I am reading that right. I’m very proud of my daughter’s 209 she got today. We are out of the running we know for semi-finalist as from CT (220 likely or HIGHER) , but if she gets commended star next to her name in graduation program. Yes, sometimes it’s the little things. . . .

    Just making sure that is done nationally for commended?

  11. Any chance you will know when you will have more information regarding cutoffs? My daughter scored a 223 in a state with a 217 cutoff last year. Wondering how much higher last year’s cutoffs could get?

  12. My daughter got a PSAT score of 1450 (SI 215) in Colorado for class of 2018. Do you think she has any chance to make the cutoff for semifinalist?

  13. What are you basing the much higher cutoffs prediction on? Is it anecdotal from schools that have received scores, or is it based upon information that you have seen from the College Board? Is it across the board geographically? Do you think that the cutoffs could move 4 points or more higher? Thanks.

  14. Just viewed your video and YES… it’s very informative, thank you! Our son scored a 1450 with a SI of 221. Seems that is a safe score for commended in our state (California) but iffy for semi-finalist, correct?

  15. I’m an SAT prep guy myself and expected the first year’s PSAT (and early SAT) scores to be high–to make everyone (well, maybe not colleges) feel better about the new test–and that’s exactly what I saw with my own students: pretty much everyone was happy with their numbers. My guess was that, subsequently, the PSAT and SAT scores would gradually have to come down to make the test more credible with colleges. Since the numbers are just coming in, I haven’t heard that much from my other kids yet… my own son, who had more of an idea what to expect this year, pulled a 35 on the ACT on the October ACT, but only went up from a 1450 to a 1460 (same English, 10 points higher in Math) on the PSAT. So, my guess is still that the number will move back, not up. May be wishful thinking… What are your students reporting?

    • If The College Board is playing games rather than keeping things consistent, then you could be right. I’m taking their data as a given for now, but I’m open to hearing what others have experienced. My students are reporting higher scores but that may just be because I taught them 😉

      For now, treat this as speculation.

    • 96% is the commended selection cutoff from total student attended exam.

      If 2016% is based on 2015. Students (with a 2016 psat 1370~1380) could equal to 96% of last year students.

      last year 96% (% total attended students number) is commended cut off 209, last year equal to 1390~1400.

      If population not changed, what this means? Ha Ha

  16. My understanding is that PSAT percentiles are based on prior year scores. If I’m not mistaken, doesn’t that tell us zero about how this year’s students performed relative to each other?

    • Kind of like this. But still hepful if population structure not change.

      If 1450 is 96%, commended cutoff should be higher than last year.

      If 1300 is 96%, commended cutoff should be lower than last year.

  17. I was very happy to discover that your earlier alarm has been rescinded, and wanted to add my stats:
    11th grade, Florida
    Score: 1440 (60 pts up from last year)
    Index: 219 (9 pts up from last year)
    I’m feeling good because the cutoff last year was 217, and FL has been pretty stable. But I guess anything could happen. I was confused about what you said in the update though- what do you mean we will know more in January? I thought the SI data release was private? Thanks.

    • Last January, The College Board published a table of selection indexes and corresponding percentiles for the 2015 exam. I expect they’ll do the same this year. Whether this data is meaningful or not is another question. I’ll look into it carefully before I comment on it. By the way, congratulations on the great score and I hope 219 will be enough this year.

  18. Hello thanks for this post, however I do have one question. So will a 213 in the state of California on the PSAT most likely result in a Letter of Commendation?

  19. Hi Nielson,
    What are the chances that this years NMSF cutoff for WA State is 2 points higher than the prediction? I got a 221, and it is predicted to be 220. Thanks

  20. Hi Nielson,
    What are the chances that this years NMSF cutoff for WA State is 2 points higher than the prediction? I got a 221, and it is predicted to be 220. Thanks

  21. I do not see clearly how that “published percentiles are based on last year’s performance” affects this year’s cutoff, and why a prediction that this year’s cutoff will be higher should be retracted based on that information.

    Only when we expect the students do not get as high scores as last year, we can expect the cutoff stays the same as last year.

    I still predict a higher cutoff for this year and we will see.

  22. Hasn’t Semi-Finalist status become meaningless to the elite colleges? If I live in MA, I can get a PSAT score of 1470 and a SI of 219 and not make SF. Not only do students from other states with significantly lower scores become Semi-Finalists, but students in the SAME state with lower PSAT scores (e.g.1440) can also become SF. Hasn’t the scoring methodology become convoluted enough to be silly?

    • I think the College Board has weighted the verbal portion more for many, many years now, and, in my opinion, rightfully so. This is why students with different scores can get equal SIs. Ability in critical reading and writing is a stronger indicator of academic performance across the curriculum. Of course, as an AP English Language and Composition teacher, I’m sure I’m biased! However, generally speaking, it’s been my experience that students who are identified as gifted specifically in English tend to outperform across the board, while students with a specific learning disability in language tend to struggle more in every subject than those who are SLD in math. To me, this justifies the College Board’s weighting of the language arts portion.

      • Really? Because the College Board score consists of half verbal, half math weighted equally. You may be thinking of the NMSQT score which is something else entirely and double counts English. Your rational for justifying this is anecdotal, consider the recent national, almost panic-stricken emphasis on STEM both in academia and the business environment. The “liberal arts” paradigm is becomming obsolete versus the hard sciences, and in my opinion rightfully so. This is why corporations import engineers and programmers from India, China and Russia, while English majors are working at Starbucks.

    • All valid points, but the PSAT was never a huge factor in college admissions. The SAT/ACT and GPA are much more important. I think students are anxious about semifinalist status mainly because of the scholarship opportunities rather than the boost to their college application.

  23. Hi! I am curious as to when the official cutoffs will be made available. I scored a 221 in Texas and from what I see my chances don’t seem particularly great.

  24. Hey. I am in class of 2018 and just received my PSAT scores. I got a 220 and live in North Carolina. How good are my chances for making semifinalist?

  25. Hi, what’s the chance of semifinalist with a 211 in Wisconsin? I saw that the fluctuations (converted) in previous years went back in forth from 212 to 213, and class of 2016’s cutoff was a big jump to 215…how good are my chances?

  26. Hey! My son scored a 217 in Tennessee. Last year TN cutoff for NMSF was 218. Does he still have a shot at semifinalist?

  27. I know there is no official data yet for Class of 2018, but is there anything anecdotally to indicate qualifying score movement for AZ . . up or down? My son scored 220. Last year’s cut-off was 219.

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