Why Your PSAT Score Matters

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By: Emma Stromberg, Staff Reporter

There are so many great opportunities for students to receive scholarships during their time in high school. One of them being the National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual competition for academic recognition from colleges and scholarships. It is open to any high school student in the U.S. Over 1.6 million students entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 PSAT/ NMSQT. The highest scoring students in each state are picked to be semifinalists.

After all students take the PSAT, 16,000 semifinalists are chosen. From there, each semifinalist will write an essay giving information about themselves, like awards they have received, activities they enjoy, and volunteer or service hour details. After that, to be a finalist you must take the PSAT junior year and meet additional standards and fulfill several requirements.

Students are able to take the PSAT their freshman and sophomore year, but just as practice for the real thing. It is recommended for all students to take the test when given the chance, just so they are aware of what will be on the real thing.

“We encourage 9th and 10th graders to take it for practice, junior year determines it though.” says Linda Norris, the College and Career Adviser at Manatee High School.

This scholarship program has been around since 1955. This is a great chance for people to earn an education, whether that was what they were planning to do or not. In a country that college is almost mandatory for most jobs, programs like this are amazing. Scholarships will also lessen the financial stress that parents and students face when dealing with college.

In February, around 15,000 semifinalist are notified by mail that they have advanced to be a finalist. After that, the winners of the scholarship are chosen based on accomplishments, abilities, and skills. The winners will not be based on biased information like race, gender, ethnicity, or religion. To win a scholarship, there is a lot for the NMSC selectors to consider.

Something that is really unique about the National Merit Scholarship Program, is that there are different types of scholarships. There are the National Merit $2,500 scholarships, Corporate-sponsored and College-sponsored scholarships. they all have different requirements and benefits, but they are all overall valuable.

So to be prepared for the PSAT, here are some things students should know. Students should receive a packet with all of the material the PSAT will cover. Study this. Grab a friend and set aside an hour or two for just reading over the packet to ensure preparedness. Make sure to remember at least two number 2 pencils (not mechanical), and a calculator. Since the test lasts a couple hours, pack a snack and water for the breaks in between sessions.

The PSAT student guides and practice tests that students will receive before the test. Photo cred: Emma Stromberg

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a chance that every student should take when given. If scholarships are something that sounds interesting, then take this seriously. Practice and study for it and just remember that students and parents could be saving a whole lot of money for the future.