National Merit: How?

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National Merit: How?

Catherine Irrgang, Writer, Photographer

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Bob Jones had 24 National Merit Semifinalists this year.  According to the Madison City webpage, “Only 72 of the 30,000-plus high schools across America had more National Merit Semifinalists than Bob Jones.”

A high school student can qualify for National Merit Scholarships by earning a high score on the PSAT taken in October of their junior year. If a student receives a high grade in their sophomore year, it will not qualify them for a National Merit Scholarship. To qualify, junior students must score in the top 1% ranking; however, not all of those who receive these scores will earn a scholarship.

In order to become a National Merit Semifinalist in Alabama, for the class of 2016, you would have to score a 209 or above, anything below that would not qualify. In any state, anything below a 200 does not qualify, the lowest score being 202.

But how does one prepare  for the PSAT? Some ways to prepare are studying the content and format of the test. Taking practice tests would also help. It may not be hard to find some on the Internet. It would also be beneficial to time yourself on these tests, due to the fact that the PSAT will be timed. If you notice any constant mistakes on the same type of problems, then you should search for practice problems. If you eliminate the problem, the better you will do on the test. But don’t focus entirely on what you are struggling with, during the actual test focus more on what you are more skilled at.

Remember, that while studying, you have to stay motivated. Why do you want to do well on the PSAT? Some reasons are academic recognition, scholarship money, and college success. You should also consider personal reasons, self-accomplishment, fulfilling a promise to your parents, or to prove that you can.

National Merit Semifinalist William Irrgang, featured in the picture along with another National Merit Semifinalist, said, “People and colleges will accept you; also you get money for school.” He said that nothing had really changed that much since becoming a National Merit Semifinalist other than he took the SAT another time. When asked if he thought he would be named a Finalist, he said that he doesn’t speculate. He said that for PSAT preparation he took the PSAT prep class and he felt like it helped him.

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