The National Merit Scholarship Corporation selected 35 Manual seniors as National Merit Semifinalists based on the students’ scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) during their junior year.
To move forward in the competition and become National Merit Finalists, the semifinalists must submit SAT scores and complete a separate application. Approximately 1.5 million students enter the National Merit program each year, but only 15,000 students qualify for semifinalist standing.
According to Ms. Medley, eight more Manual students earned semifinalist standing than last year, but the number is fairly consistent with the school’s long term average. As with most years, Manual has the greatest number of semifinalists of any high school in the state.
In addition to Manual’s thirty-five awardees, eleven other JCPS students were named National Merit Semifinalists–two from Atherton, seven from Ballard, one from Eastern and one from Pleasure Ridge Park.
Sherry Wang (12, HSU) was honored to be selected, but she was not surprised to receive the award, since the College Board releases PSAT scores two months after the students take the test. “I was definitely happy, but it wasn’t a surprise thing because we got our scores back in December of last school year, and the cutoff for National Merit is never higher than 211,” she said. “To prepare for the test, I used a lot of prep books, and I did practice problems.”
Yidi Huang (12, MST) emphasized the importance of PSAT preparation for current juniors who will take this year’s qualifying test on Oct. 15. “Practice is the key,” he said. “None of the material should be new, so the focus should be to recognize the problems and not make stupid mistakes. Every point matters, just ask last year’s 208s and 209s. I’d recommend taking Barron’s practice tests early on, but make sure to do a Princeton Review test last as a confidence booster before the test.”