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Is a Perfect PSAT Score Required for Merit Scholarships?

Perfect is swell, but is a perfect PSAT score required for merit scholarships? (Of course, you could always use studying as a way to do better on all of the high school tests! Test Preparation without Getting Smarter)

"I finished watching your DVD Getting The Big Scholarships.... it was awesome!  Thank you for taking the time to help others.  In receiving a merit scholarship wouldn't you have to have a perfect PSAT score?  I 've had a financial aid officer tell me this. "
~Diane in Washington


Dear Diane,

Some colleges will give a full scholarship to a perfect PSAT score.  Some will give a smaller amount of money for a perfect PSAT score.  Some colleges don't give merit aid based on test scores at all.  It varies between colleges, so you want to ask the colleges you plan to apply to.

A perfect score on the PSAT will mean your student will at least be a "National Merit Commended" scholar.  Your children don't have to be PERFECT in order to be commended.  At the same time, a perfect score may not mean they are able to get into the next level of "National Merit Scholars".  Getting a perfect PSAT score means that your child is smart - but doesn't tell you exactly how smart they are.  It means colleges may give them merit scholarships - but not exactly how much scholarship money.  So you can see that a perfect score on the PSAT will mean that your student has a special achievement (like National Merit Commended Scholar, or National Merit Scholarship.)  Some colleges will award merit scholarships for that.  But a perfect PSAT score will also usually mean a good SAT score, so those are tied together.

But the PSAT isn't the only test tied to scholarships.  The SAT is also closely correlated to scholarship money.  A perfect score on the SAT test may have nothing to do with whether or not you are a chosen as a National Merit Scholar.  But that perfect score can give great financial aid in terms of merit scholarships. Nothing can change a student's scholarship opportunity faster than a good SAT score.

A perfect PSAT score is very difficult to achieve.  If a college only gives merit scholarships for a perfect PSAT, then perhaps they don't have very much money to give away.  You may have better luck with financial aid if you choose another college that has mulitiple opportunities for merit scholarships - something that doesn't require perfection.   I would look for other colleges that offer scholarships for other test scores.  Don't invest a lot of time in looking at a college that will ONLY give merit aid to a perfect PSAT.  I think they probably provide more scholarships based on other things as well, and perhaps they give more than unsual merit scholarships to a perfect PSAT.

But there is something more important than a perfect PSAT.  Here is the take-away:  study for the PSAT and SAT.  Studying for those tests can save you a truckload of money on college.  The amount of money may vary from college to college, depending on scores.  But the overall message is simple:  Study for the PSAT and SAT.

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Thursday, 23 May 2024

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