By Helen Zeidman
Senior Jessica Sun has earned a spot as a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship for a chance to win thousands of dollars to pay for her college education.
The SAT standardized test is commonly known as one of the most important tests students will take during high school. But, many students do not know the importance of the preliminary SAT test, also known as the PSAT/NMSQT.
Sun is a prime example of the success that the PSAT can bring. Her impressive performance on the PSAT has landed her in a prestigious academic scholarship competition through the National Merit Scholarship Program.
“I was really excited when I found out. I was also hoping I would be one when I got my score back,” Sun said. “This hasn’t changed my future plans much. But I am looking into more schools that offer the national merit scholarships.”
The PSAT is taken before the SAT, normally in the fall of junior year. The word preliminary causes students to underestimate the power of this test. But this test, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, could fund a student’s college endeavors.
Last year, 1.4 million students took the PSAT. Out of the vast pool of students, Sun was chosen to be a semi-finalist. This means that she is in the competition along with 16,000 other high school seniors to win a National Merit Scholarship in the spring of 2017.
In order to become a semifinalist, a student has to have the top 1% of PSAT scores in their junior year. To continue to the final competition, Sun has to show rigorous academic record, teacher recommendations, excellent SAT scores, and a standout essay.
It is projected that 90% of the semifinalists will become finalists. Then these students will be eligible for an array of 7,500 scholarships adding up to a grand total of about $33 million. There are around 4,000 college sponsored scholarships up for grabs, as well as offerings from corporations and businesses.
“To me this is an honor because it reflects my hard work,” Sun said. “But it also opens up more opportunities for my future education with scholarships and the like.”
The guidance department and principals are all excited for Sun’s accomplishments.
“Yes, this is quite an honor and we are very proud,” Principal Shue said.
Any juniors interested in having a shot at these scholarships should take Red Lion’s PSAT test date. Red Lion Area Senior High School will host the PSAT test on Oct. 19.