Nine seniors recognized as National Merit semifinalists


This year’s National Merit semifinalists include (left to right) Leah Taylor, Becky Han, Benjamin Rosenberg, Ryan Siegel, Eddie Samowitz, Olivia Hansen, Jacob Keller, Jolie Bercow, and Emily Doherty.

Maddie Hiller, Staff Writer

Nine Schreiber seniors were recognized as National Merit Semifinalists this year based on their high PSAT scores. This group includes Jolie Bercow, Emily Doherty, Becky Han, Olivia Hansen, Jacob Keller, Benjamin Rosenberg, Eddie Samowitz, Ryan Siegel, and Leah Taylor.

Every year, more than 1.5 million high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors take the Preliminary Standardized Aptitude Test, or the PSAT.  The purpose of the PSAT is to prepare students for the SAT, which is a test intended to assess students’ readiness for college.  Administered by the College Board, the SAT is a huge factor in the college admissions process.

 In 1955, The National Merit Scholarship Program began to utilize the PSAT as an academic competition for recognitions and scholarships.  The recognitions awarded are in the form of certificates on the students’ transcripts, while the scholarships awarded are received in the form of monetary payments. 

“The ranking was primarily based off of the test scores, and then we had to fill out an application in order to get the recognition,” said Siegel.  “When you consider the big picture, the competition is tough, and the statistics can be a little intimidating.”

The scholarships administered are funded by 410 college sponsors and by independent corporations.  Since its creation, The National Merit Scholarship Program, a nonprofit organization, has given more than 423,000 scholarships worth about $1.7 billion to more than three million students across the United States.

 “These exemplary individuals continue to impress us through their academic successes and participation in extracurricular activities.  Their work ethic and character represent the epitome of what the Port Washington School District continuously strives to attain,” said Port Washington’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooney.

These honors are major accomplishments, as these top students were chosen based on the high scores they obtained on the PSAT.  The semifinalist cutoff score for this year’s seniors was 221 for New York State. These students will now be competing with approximately 16,000 students from all over the country for 7,500 scholarships worth more than $32 million.

“It’s really nice to get recognition for the hard work my fellow seniors and I have put into standardized testing,” said Bercow.  

According to the National Merit Scholarship Program, more than 90 percent of semifinalists will be named finalists, while half of the finalists will win a scholarship. Once students apply to to become finalists, their overall grades, scores on the SAT, contributions and leadership activities, written personal essays, and high school faculty recommendations will be examined to make the final decision. This final selection will take place between January and February of next year. These notified finalists will be eligible for National Merit Scholarship awards, and those who received scholarships will be notified in the spring of 2019.

It is also important to mention that there has recently been a huge change for future semifinalists. For juniors taking the PSAT in October 2018, they will be the first class that will be allowed to use their ACT scores in the finalist round of the competition as “confirming scores.” In previous years, many students had to take the SAT simply in order to comply to the National Merit’s rules despite scoring high on the ACT. 

Congratulations to Schreiber’s National Merit semifinalists of the class of 2019.