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National Merit Scholarship Program

Tyler Pressler, Reporter

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The national Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition, and participation in the competition comes from taking the PSAT test that is given every fall. Younger students can take the test, but the test that counts towards the National Merit Scholarship Program can’t be taken until a students’ junior year. The test taken during a students’ junior year is what names the commended scholars, who are named based on national selection index scores. These students have strong scores, but will not be continuing in the competition. Semi-finalists, who are in the top 1% of scorers in their state, will be named and will have the opportunity to move forward in the competition. In order to move even further, students are required to complete a variety of steps including, but not limited to taking the SAT, sending records of activities and accomplishments, sending school recommendations, and sending  high school transcripts.

Students taking the PSAT will get access to their test booklet and answer sheets. From there they will be able to utilize a code on their answer sheet that will lead them to an explanation of each question on the test. It gives an opportunity for targeted test preparation prior to the junior year test, as well as there being numerous online test preparation sites. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program provides scholarship opportunities for students. The program itself offers scholarships, but many corporations and colleges offer scholarships to National Merit Finalists. Doing well on the test will also gain the attention of colleges that are interested in finding students who work hard, contribute to their community, and would be an asset to their schools. Upon completion of the PSAT, if the student has done well, numerous schools will begin contacting the student.

Students should take the test at least once before taking it their junior year. It is wise to look over the scores of your practice tests and use the online test preps, test booklet, and the answer sheet. This will help students prepare for the actual test, and understand their mistakes so that they may do well on the actual test.


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National Merit Scholarship Program