Forty-nine Manual students recognized as National Merit Semifinalists

Forty-nine Manual students recognized as National Merit Semifinalists

Olivia Dawson

Forty-seven of Manual’s 49 National Merit Semifinalists pose with the school counselors and Principal Jerry Mayes for a group picture. Photo by Peter Champelli

The National Merit Corporation designated 49 Manual students as National Merit Semifinalists based on their Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT) results from last year.

More than 1.5 million students from 22,000 high schools across the nation entered the program by taking the PSAT or SAT, with 16,000 students qualifying as semifinalists.

“Forty nine is not an unusually high number but it is the highest number in recent years,” Manual Counselor Amy Medley said. “Kentucky had 68 schools participate, resulting in 223 semi-finalists total,  and 49 (or 21% of the state’s total semi-finalists) of those students were from Manual.”

To be eligible for National Merit Semifinalist status, students must have a Selection Index of 210 or higher on the PSAT or an equivalent score on the SAT. Semifinalists will then apply separately for a chance to awarded National Merit Finalist status.

National Merit Semifinalists can receive a substantial amount of money toward college, ranging from smaller scholarships to full tuition at less competitive schools.

“Students may qualify for National Merit $2,500 scholarships, corporate-sponsored merit scholarship awards, and college-sponsored merit scholarship awards,” Medley said.

Weijing Huang (12, MST) earned a borderline score on the PSAT and was “mostly relieved and very excited” by seeing her results. She found studying with her dad at home more helpful than attending tutoring classes.

“I would tell [students] that every point matters and studying and practice really do help,” Huang said.

Emily Hu (12, HSU) explained that students don’t have to stick with only PSAT study aids. “Certain books that I used for the SAT were also very applicable for the PSAT,” she said. “For example, Erica Meltzer wrote this fantastic books called The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar that I used for the SAT but was also wonderful for the PSAT.”

Hu made suggestions for students taking the PSAT this year. “If there are glaring weaknesses that you feel concerned about, do practice until you feel confident, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your teachers or peers,” she said. “The best thing about Manual is that everyone is supportive and has a vested interest in seeing you succeed.”