The National Merit Scholarship program (NMS) is the most prestigious academic program for high schoolers nationwide, but only ½ of 1% of the nation’s top testers gain admittance into this program each year. Only juniors can qualify for the NMS by taking the PSAT the fall of their junior year, and they must score within the top ½ of 1% of juniors that year. Roughly 300 students from Minnesota make it into this program each year and 16,000 nationwide.
PSAT/SAT: Due to the difficulty of this test and the extremely competitive nature of the score, The English Tutor only recommends this prep for students who have the potential for scoring high enough to be National Merit Scholars. Sophomore PSAT index scores of 200+ show promise that your child has a chance as a Junior to score well enough to get into the program. Cut-off for Commended Scholar for class of 2019 is 212; for Semi-Finalist 220.
8-12 hours of PSAT prep recommended split between English and Math tutors. More SAT prep may be recommended if your child scores well enough on the PSAT to make it into the National Merit Scholarship Program.
NOTE: all colleges, including highly selective ones and the Ivies, accept the ACT Plus Writing score. The PSAT and SAT are significantly harder than the ACT. Since SAT scores are NOT necessary, The English Tutor only recommends that families invest in PSAT/SAT prep if their child has a shot at being a National Merit Scholar.
Most schools have students sign-up for the PSAT at their respective high school, not on-line. However, students need to sign-up for SAT at collegeboard.org.