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Historical National Merit Cutoffs 2008 to Present

By December 12, 2019 February 7th, 2020 National Merit, PSAT

Below are the Semifinalist cutoffs for the 13 years for the class of 2008 to the class of 2020. Because of the change in PSAT scoring with the class of 2017, early cutoffs have been restated on the new scale and are flagged with an asterisk.

StateOld PSAT
2008*
Old PSAT
2009*
Old PSAT
2010*
Old PSAT
2011*
Old PSAT
2012*
Old PSAT
2013*
Old PSAT
2014*
Old PSAT
2015*
Old PSAT
2016*
New PSAT
2017
New PSAT
2018
New PSAT
2019
New PSAT
2020
Alabama214214214215216214216213214215216216216
Alaska217216216217216211216215212213217215213
Arizona216214215214217216217217218219220220219
Arkansas208211210210212209212212211213215214214
California219219219220221220221221221221222223222
Colorado217217217216218216218217218218220221220
Connecticut219219219220220219221220220220221222221
Delaware220220220218219218219218218218221222220
District of Columbia221221221221221221222222222222223223223
Florida216216216215217216217216217217219219219
Georgia217218217218219217219218219219220220220
Hawaii217218217218218216218217217217220220219
Idaho211214214214216213216216214214216214215
Illinois217217217217218217218218218219221221221
Indiana217217216216217216218216217217219219218
Iowa214215214214215213215213214215216216215
Kansas216216216216217216218217217217219218218
Kentucky214214214214216214216215215215217218217
Louisiana212214213215214214214214216214216217215
Maine216216217217216215218216216214215217215
Maryland221220221220221220221221221221222223222
Massachusetts221221221221221221222221221222222223223
Michigan214214214214215213215215215216219219219
Minnesota217217218217218217218218217219220220219
Mississippi209208210212212211213213214212213215214
Missouri216217216215217215217214214216217217217
Montana213214211214214210213212211210214214214
Nebraska213212213215214213214214214215215216216
Nevada214212209214214214216214216214217218218
New Hampshire218216217217218216217216217216217219218
New Jersey221220221221221221222222222222223223223
New Mexico214214214212215214215215214213215215213
New York220218219219220218220219220219221221221
North Carolina217218217217219217218216218218219220219
North Dakota209208209209211207211208209209211212212
Ohio216217216216217216218217218217219219218
Oklahoma213214213212214212215212214213216215214
Oregon217217217218218217219219218219220221220
Pennsylvania217217217218218217219218219218219220220
Rhode Island216217219216217216218216216217216220218
South Carolina215216216214216214215214216215217216215
South Dakota210212212212212211212210209209215215214
Tennessee217217217216217215216216216218218219219
Texas218218218218220218220219220220221221221
Utah209210212210214212214214212215216215215
Vermont218217217216219217219217217215217216216
Virginia219220219219220219221220221221222222222
Washington218219219219220218220220220220222222221
West Virginia207210210209211207210208209209211212212
Wisconsin214215213214214213215214214215217216216
Wyoming207208208209211207210211209209213212212
~Territories207208208209211207210208209209211212212
~Outside US221221221221221221222222222222223223213
~Commended207208208209211207210208209209211212212

*Restated on new scale

All classes prior to 2017 used a Selection Index ranging from 60–240. The Selection Index was calculated by adding the 20–80 scores received in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. The new PSAT was an almost complete overhaul. The content changed. The scoring changed. The scaling changed. And the distribution of results changed. New PSAT scores consist of an Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score (ERW) and a Math score, both ranging from 160–760. As in previous periods, the ERW score carries twice the weight when determining the Selection Index. The index can calculated by dropping the zero from the 160–760 section scores, doubling ERW and adding in the Math. For example, a student with a score of 720 ERW and 740 Math has a Selection Index of 218 (72 x 2 + 74). Because of the weighting of ERW, a Selection Index cannot be determined from the Total Score (320–1520) alone. Students with the same 1460 Total Score can have different Selection Indexes.

The Restatement Process

Once the NMSF cutoffs for the Class of 2017 were announced, Compass was able to produce an estimated alignment of the old and new scales. For several reasons, the structure of the new test compressed the range of NMSF cutoffs. Those at the lower end of the range increased significantly, while those at the high end stayed flat or went down. This created an odd situation where the highest possible score (228 versus 240) went down, but most cutoffs went up. These changes didn’t make it harder or easier to qualify as a Semifinalist (essentially the same number of students qualified in the Class of 2017 in each state as qualified in the Class of 2016). The changes did, however, make it harder to interpret scores. The impact is easily seen on a stair step plot of NMSF cutoffs from lowest to highest.

In a normal year, state cutoffs increase and decrease by small, varying amounts. One state may have a talented class or an increase in test-takers, while another has an “off” year. The scatterplot on the left shows how scores changed between 2015 and 2016—a linear relationship, as expected.

The scatterplot on the right shows how scores matched up between 2016 and 2017. By calculating a best-fit polynomial, we produced a conversion table to translate old PSAT Selection Indexes to new PSAT Selection Indexes. As can be seen in the way that points are scattered above and below the line and curve, year-to-year matchups are never perfect. A conversion table based exclusively on the 2016–2017 score changes should not be viewed as definitive. We consider it the best available comparison tool.

Below are original cutoffs on the old SAT:

National Merit Semifinalist Cutoffs 2009–2016 (Old PSAT Scale)

State20092010201120122013201420152016
Alabama209208210211209211207209
Alaska212211214212204212210206
Arizona209210209213212214213215
Arkansas204203203205202205206204
California217218219221220223222223
Colorado213213212215212215213215
Connecticut218218219220218221220220
Delaware219219215217215218215216
District of Columbia221221223223221224224225
Florida211211210214211214211214
Georgia215214215218214217215218
Hawaii216214215216211215214214
Idaho208209208211207211211208
Illinois214214214216213216215215
Indiana213211212214211215212213
Iowa210209209210207210207208
Kansas211211211214212216213213
Kentucky209209208212208211210210
Louisiana208207210209209209208211
Maine212213213212210215212211
Maryland220221220221219223221222
Massachusetts221221223223221224223223
Michigan209209209210207210210210
Minnesota214215213215213215215214
Mississippi201203205205204207207209
Missouri213211210213210213209209
Montana208204208209203207206204
Nebraska206207210209207209209209
Nevada206202208209208212208211
New Hampshire211213214216211214212213
New Jersey220221221223221224224225
New Mexico209208206210208210210208
New York216218217219215219218219
North Carolina215214214217213215212215
North Dakota201202202204200204201202
Ohio213211212214212215213215
Oklahoma208207206209206210206208
Oregon213213215216213218217215
Pennsylvania213214216215214217216217
Rhode Island213217211213211216212212
South Carolina212211208211208210209211
South Dakota205205205206204206203202
Tennessee213213212214210212212212
Texas215216215219216219218220
Utah203206203208205208208206
Vermont213213212217214217213214
Virginia219218218220217222219222
Washington217217218220216220219219
West Virginia203203202204200203201202
Wisconsin210207209209207210208208
Wyoming201201202204200203204202
~Commended201201202204200203201202

 

Art Sawyer

About Art Sawyer

Art graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he was the top-ranked liberal arts student in his class. Art pioneered the one-on-one approach to test prep in California in 1989 and co-founded Compass Education Group in 2004 in order to bring the best ideas and tutors into students' homes and computers. Although he has attained perfect scores on all flavors of the SAT and ACT, he is routinely beaten in backgammon.

One Comment

  • Avatar Diotima says:

    This is extremely helpful, thank you. I feel much more secure about my son’s 223 in CA knowing that it’s roughly equivalent to a 226+ on the old PSAT.

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