The Seattle Times published a list of the National Merit semi-Finalists for the 2018-19 senior class. To become a National Merit finalist, a student must place in the top 1% on the PSAT for their state. The score will vary each year, as it based on the top 1% of current test takers and also the top score differs by state. For 2018, in Washington State, a student must score a 1450 to qualify, and a score of 1480 qualified high school students in Massachusetts and a 1340 put a student in the top 1% in Wyoming.
It can be misleading to use these stats as THE ONLY indicator of overall high school quality. Many of the public school listed are feeder schools from the district gifted program and several of the private/independent schools are only admitting top academic students to their program. It remains important to look at the entire school program and not just at one sets of statistics. The test scores may be used as an indicator for the school culture (when there is a large number of qualified students) and also as a baseline for the depth of academic offerings.
Several schools start introducing their students to “mock” versions of this test as early as middle school and other students and schools are taking the test for the first time as a junior in high school.
To see the results for the graduating class of 2019 cut and paste this link in your brower: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/washingtons-national-merit-scholarship-semifinalists-named-seattles-lakeside-tops-list/