The National Merit Scholarship Program has taken on a strange bedfellow. Beginning with the 2020 National Merit Scholarship competition, students identified as Semifinalists by their P.S.A.T. scores may submit “confirming” scores that result from either the S.A.T. or the A.C.T. to be considered for Finalist standing. The A.C.T. has long been the primary competitor of the College Board, producer of the P.S.A.T. (and S.A.T.) and cosponsor of the National Merit Scholarship Program. A likely outcome of the A.C.T. option as a National Merit Scholarship Program confirming test will be a surge in A.C.T. testing on the part of high-achieving students who want to improve their chances of selection. Students would be wise, however, to maintain perspective. Semifinalists will be invited to complete applications that include an essay, a recommendation from a school official and evidence of consistently superior academic performance in the classroom. In a competition featuring students who enter with already very high scores, S.A.T. or A.C.T., the final determination will likely be derived from a more holistic assessment with emphasis falling more on subjective submissions than fine distinctions between near-perfect scores. That being the case, Semifinalists are well advised to focus more on developing an insightful essay and maintaining excellence in the classroom during senior year than on trying to add a few points to their S.A.T. or A.C.T. profiles. Learn more from our partners at Revolution Prep in the latest post on College Coach Insider blog at blog.getintocollege.com.
The National Merit® Scholarship Program has taken on a strange bedfellow. Beginning with the 2020 National Merit Scholarship competition, students identified as Semifinalists may submit “confirming” scores that result from ACT® test administrations and be considered for Finalist standing. The ACT® has long been the primary competitor of the College Board, producer of the PSAT/NMSQT® (and SAT®) and cosponsor of the National Merit® Scholarship Program.