Story by Lilian Zhu
Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
Four SPHS students were announced as National Merit Scholar semifinalists last week, with dozens more earning the rank of a commended scholar. Seniors Frances Chiu, Matthew Haines, Jessica Li, and Luyang Zhang join 1,900 other California seniors who achieved the qualifying score on the PSAT.
The PSAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) is a standardized assessment students take in their junior year for the chance to earn a merit-based scholarship awarded to 7,600 high schoolers nationwide. After becoming semifinalists, students must complete additional requirements including writing an essay and sending in a letter of recommendation to become National Merit Scholar finalists. Half of the finalists will receive $2,500 dollars from the National Merit Scholarship or possibly more from a specific college or corporation.
Some students studied for many months or even years to make the difficult semifinalist cutoff of 221 out of 228 in California.
“Being a National Merit Semifinalist is a great honor to me. I have been practicing for standardized testing since eighth grade, so it is certainly a reward to all of the hard work I’ve spent on studying,” Li said. “I hope winning this award can provide me an advantage in the selective college admission process.”
Finalists will be announced in April of 2021. The PSAT for the 2020-2021 school year has been tentatively postponed to Jan. 26, 2021.