National Merit Semifinalist cut scores for the class of 2017 who took the PSAT in October 2015

(Compass Prep) By Adam Ingersoll ||  .


We have compiled all 50 states’ PSAT cutoff scores required for seniors to proceed in the National Merit Scholarship program.

While the general narrative around new SAT scores has been score inflation, with a boost of around 80 points through much of the distribution compared to old SAT scores, on the PSAT we have top scores clustering in a tighter range than in the past and causing score compression.

With the National Merit Semifinalist index perfect score dropping from 240 to 228 (76 x 3), we heard predictions from casual observers who assumed that the cutoffs would be much lower than prior years. My colleague Art Sawyer at Compass knew it would be much more complicated than that. Last winter he did a deep-dive (DEEP) into the available data and came up with a state-by-state forecast, which he fastidiously updated as more info dripped out from College Board and other sources.

We have been able to collect the actual cutoffs for all states and can compare the final figures to Art’s estimates and to prior years. The trend is that states with relatively lower cutoffs in the past are seeing a large jump in their cutoff, while states with higher cutoffs have stayed the same or dropped by a few points. .