Two seniors named national merit finalists

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Two seniors named national merit finalists

Congratulations to Liane Kee (left) and Laney Hughes (Right) on being named National Merit finalists!

Congratulations to Liane Kee (left) and Laney Hughes (Right) on being named National Merit finalists!

Congratulations to Liane Kee (left) and Laney Hughes (Right) on being named National Merit finalists!

Congratulations to Liane Kee (left) and Laney Hughes (Right) on being named National Merit finalists!


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The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year, and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

Of the 1.6 million entrants, around 50,000 people with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores, calculated by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing and Language, and Math Test scores, qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or a semifinalist.

Liane Kee, Senior, was one of the fortunate students to get the scholarship.

“It [being a finalist] has helped me gain a good scholarship. Not all of the finalists even get a scholarship, so I guess that makes me really lucky because I had the opportunity to not only be a finalist, but also to receive a scholarship,” Kee said.

Laney Hughes, Senior, also got the scholarship.

“I guess it’s kinda cool [to be a finalist] because, when I took the PSAT, I didn’t expect anything to come from it,” said Hughes.

What is important studying, in preparation for the SAT, are the subjects that you struggle with.

“My advice for those taking the SAT is to try to study as much as you can and make a plan for yourself,” Hughes said. “Try to locate what you’re weak on and then just work on that as much as you can, even if it’s stuff you might not like. For me, it was science and mathematics that I had to work really hard on to get better in.”

Though both are standardized tests, the SAT and ACT are different in the specific material that is needed to be known.

“For the SAT, specifically, there’s quite a difference in strategy in comparison to that of the ACT,” said Hughes. “The ACT is a little bit easier, actually, so for the SAT it’s more about specific knowledge and more advanced mathematics, so definitely study for that. On the English section, I would suggest taking as many practice tests as you can.”

The PSAT ultimately provides the potential to enhance one’s academic direction.

 “The PSAT requires a lot of studying, but it can pay off, for sure. Especially when you can win scholarships,” Hughes said. “I know that if you are a National Merit Finalist, a lot of schools automatically have scholarships available for you. Schools also look specifically for National Merit Finalists, so definitely just do your best on the PSAT and do your best on the application if you do qualify as a finalist.”

Though not everyone who is a finalist may get a scholarship from the National Merit Association, in the end, being a finalist is an excellent thing to add to your résumé.

“Being a finalist is not only a very good accolade, something to add to your résumé, but it also helps you pay for college. So if that is what your incentive is, then I’d say go for it,” said Kee.

“I think that it important for anyone that is going to take the PSAT or try out for the National Merit Scholarship in the future to know that it takes a really long time to get where you’re going. There’s a lot of people that took the PSAT in my year that are very talented that could’ve won that award over me,” Kee said. “I was lucky more than anything. So I think that just because you didn’t get the scholarship, or even if you did, that doesn’t make you as a person. You are a lot more than the awards that you get.”

All winners of the Merit Scholarship awards (Merit Scholar designees) are chosen from the finalist group based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

A variety of information is available for NMSC selectors to evaluate. The finalist’s academic record, information about the school’s curriculum and grading system, two sets of test scores, the high school official’s written recommendation, information about the student’s activities and leadership, and the finalist’s own essay is the information that is evaluated.

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Two seniors named national merit finalists