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The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) is used as the sole criterion to select National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. This test is often administered to sophomores as a practice test for the SAT and then again, to juniors as a qualifier for the National Merit Scholarship. Understand that 1.5 million juniors sit for the PSAT each year. Of these test-takers, those scoring in the 96th percentile (roughly 35,000 test-takers) will receive “Letters of Commendation” but no scholarship and will not qualify as semifinalists. Less than 1% of the nation's graduating high school seniors (roughly 16,000 test-takers) move on to the semifinals. Then things get really complicated! Suffice it to say, your kid probably has a better chance of getting struck by lightening than s/he does of ever receiving scholarship funds based on this award which is also tied to state population/representation, sponsoring corporations where a recipient's parent must be an employee, and participating/sponsoring colleges and universities. For complete details of the PSAT/NMSQT please refer to the 56 page Official Student Guide.

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