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National Merit Competition

National Merit Competition

We are here to answer any of your questions. Please view the frequently asked questions below, and feel free to reach out with any additional questions you may have.

The first step in the process is to take the PSAT/ NMSQT your junior year in high school. NMSC will look at your Selection Index Score on the PSAT/ NMSQT to determine if you are a Semifinalist. Semifinalist scores vary by state. There is more detailed information about this process at the NMSC website,

You will learn of your Semifinalist standing in early to mid September of your senior year in high school. NMSC will then notify your high school and provide them with application materials for the next stage in the process - becoming a National Merit Finalist.

Here are a few things NMSC requires you to do in order to advance to Finalist standing (for a complete list, visit

  • Be recommended for a Merit Scholarship award by your high school principal (or school official designated by the principal)
  • Have a record of consistently high academic performance in all of grades 9 through 12 and in any college coursework taken
  • Complete the Merit Scholarship Application and submit it to NMSC by mid October of your senior year in high school.
  • Take the national SAT reasoning test and earn scores that "confirm your PSAT/ NMSQT performance." It is your responsibility to file a request with the College Board SAT Program to have an official report of your SAT score sent to NMSC. You have through the December of your senior year in high school national test date to submit an SAT score.

You will be notified in early February at your home address if you have advanced to Finalist standing.

College choice is the school that you designate with NMSC as the school that you plan to attend. It is important because the school that you have designated by the deadline is the only school that can give you the College-sponsored Award.

 You can change your college choice with NMSC as many times as you would like between when you send your Merit Scholarship Application in to NMSC and OU's end of April deadline to name a college choice. You may change your college choice to OU by submitting it online here. Visit for details.

Our deadline is the same as the NMSC deadline, April 30. Since NMSC begins making College-sponsored awards on May 1, OU's priority deadline for finalists to receive our National Merit scholarship is April 30. If you have "undecided" listed as your college choice prior to our April 30 priority deadline, or if you received a corporate or national-sponsored award, name OU as your college choice to receive our scholarship. For a complete list of competition rules, visit

Scholars receive one of the three types of awards which are centrally coordinated by NMSC.

The first type of award is the National Award – a $2,500 scholarship, which is funded directly by NMSC. This award is portable, meaning that you can take it to any institution of your choice.

The second type of award is the Corporate-sponsored Award, which is generally awarded to students who are sons/daughters of parents who work for a corporation that sponsors. This award is also portable. (Refer to your original information packet from NMSC for a list of corporations which sponsor.)

The final type of award is the College-sponsored Award, which comes from the college that you designate as your college choice, provided that the college sponsors National Merit Finalists.

Note: You will only be offered one of these awards, even if you qualify for all. You should accept the one award that is offered to you.

Students are not guaranteed they will receive a scholarship coordinated by NMSC. If a student chooses to attend a university that does not sponsor or selectively sponsors (and the student is not among those selected), and the student does not receive the National Award or Corporate-sponsored Award, he/ she would remain a Finalist.