The answer to that question is yes, you absolutely can! Many people don’t realize that if they miss the PSAT due to illness, emergency, or other extenuating circumstances, they still have a chance to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.
The National Merit Scholarship is a highly prestigious $2,500 scholarship prize given to 2,500 students around the US every year. The PSAT (also known as the NMSQT — National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is used as the preliminary decider in who qualifies for the test. If a junior in high school takes the PSAT and scores above the cutoff score for his or her state, he or she has a chance to receive the scholarship. Even being a semifinalist or finalist can open doors in terms of other scholarships and college admissions.
Because of the importance of the exam, it’s important for parents and students to know what their options are if they miss the test. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s (NMSC) website:
The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for entry to NMSC competitions by alternate testing. The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the greater the student’s opportunities for meeting alternate entry requirements. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than March 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials including an entry form that requires the signature of a school official.
Generally speaking, the “alternate testing” is simply using an exam score from an SAT in place of the PSAT.
The PSAT is often overlooked by both parents and students — a huge mistake. Its value is irrefutable, and any high school junior who missed the exam would be wise to immediately inquire with school counselors and NMSC officials to coordinate alternate testing. Remember — the PSAT is arguably just as big of a deal as the SAT! Treat it as such and prepare thoroughly with people who know everything there is to know about the test!