National Merit Scholarship program


The National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship given out to the top one percent of students that take the PSAT. Scholarships up to $2,500 can be given out through the program. 

This year, the school has six National Merit Scholars. For sophomores and freshmen, they could be next.

The National Merit Scholarship program website states that their mission is “to recognize and honor the academically talented students of the United States.” 

The process of becoming a National Merit Scholar begins when students take the PSAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) in October of their junior year. To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program students must take the PSAT/NMSQT and be enrolled as a high school student in the United States. Therefore, all students at the school qualify. 

“People find it helpful to review grammar rules and use a prep book [when studying for the PSAT],” said senior Caroline Cunningham. “I didn’t prepare very much because I had already studied for the ACT, and felt like the tests would be similar.” 

In September of their senior year, students are notified if they have qualified as a semi-finalist. The next step is to apply for finalist status. Along with applying, they must take the SAT and send their scores to the scholarship organization. In March, the organization awards 7,500 students with $2,500 National Merit scholarships. 1,200 more students receive additional scholarships from other companies. 

“I think it’s a nice thing to add to college applications, and there are definitely some financial benefits to [being a National Merit Scholar],” College and career counselor Elysse Catino said. “You can get scholarships [from the program] if you are a finalist, but some colleges themselves provide National Merit either semi-finalists or finalists with their own scholarships that [students] may not be able to qualify for unless you are considered a finalist.” 

The National Merit Scholars from the school are seniors Aida Anderson, Anika Bahl, Ryan Bloom, Caroline Cunningham, Graham Lazorchak and Rebecca Stewart. 

According to Catino, even though becoming a National Merit Scholar is a nice recognition, academically, it is important to remember that it does not define a student.

“[Taking the PSAT] really boils down to the scores that the student is receiving on that one particular day, on that one particular PSAT,” Catino said.