by Anna Cook
Over the past five years only so many Marian girls have been a Commended Student or Semifinalist after taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). This year, senior Lauren Isenberg succeeded in becoming a Semifinalist from a pool of about 1.6 million entrants nationwide who took the PSAT/NMSQT.
Seniors Lauren Klingemann and Megan Doehner were also recognized as Commended Students. The National Merit Scholars (NMS) program accredits 50,000 of the 1.6 million entrants as Commended Students; and 16,000 of the 50,000 are recognized as Semifinalists.
Isenberg, along with her classmates, took the PSAT as a junior in the fall of 2016. The current sophomores and juniors took the PSAT at school on the primary test date, Oct. 11. Students from grades nine to eleven are eligible to take the PSAT to become a National Merit Scholar, but the National Merit Scholar (NMS) program will not take into account the NMSQT portion until students take the test as juniors.
To help prepare juniors, Marian requires freshman and sophomores to take the test to help familiarize them to the format of the test. “Well, as with any test, the more you’re exposed to the information and the more repetition you have and the more practice you have, the more prepared you will be,” counselor Mrs. Joanne Fisher said.
Preparation for this particular test can be long and arduous. “…I didn’t hardcore study but I wanted to make sure I was familiar with the format of the test,” Klingemann said.
The PSAT/NMSQT tests students in reading, writing, language and math. “I studied a lot to become a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist. I used Khan Academy every day, which really helped a lot,” Isenberg said.
As a Semifinalist, Isenberg will need to take the SAT and continue to perform at a high academic level. 15,000 of the 16,000 Semifinalists will move on to be Finalists in the NMS program.
If a semifinalist succeeds in being a high scorer for the SAT, he or she is required to maintain and uphold rigorous academic standards throughout the year.
Those who are Commended Students are now eligible to be awarded scholarships from various schools or corporations for their high academic achievements.
“Many students will choose which school they attend based on the National Merit scholarships opportunities that schools provide to them automatically,” Fisher said.
For Isenberg, studying every day paid off. There are about 7,500 National Merit Scholarships offered to Finalists that are worth about $33 million. She is now eligible for several different scholarships offered to National Merit Scholars from universities and colleges.
“Being National Merit is not only an honor academically, but many schools will offer scholarship funds directly as a result of the test,” Fisher said.
Lauren Isenberg, Lauren Klingemann and Megan Doehner join an elite group of Marian scholars to now be eligible for inclusion on the Academic Wall of Fame by the school’s main entrance. Over the past five years 13 girls have been recognized at Marian as Semifinalists and out of the 13, only three have moved on to become Finalists.
As students who have achieved excellence in their academic careers, Isenberg and the other Commended Students
model as great exampes for underclasswomen.
“Always stay caught up on your work and try and get it done in advance and always ask for help if you need it,” Isenberg said.
“Take a study hall junior year, there’s no award for overdoing it, it’s completely okay. Also, take a class that really interests you, because in the long run it’ll pay off and you’ll be happier with yourself,” Doehner said.
“I’ve taken classes I wanted to take, so this year I’m taking three science classes because I love science. I always love challenging myself, so as I reach one goal I try to add more challenges to keep excelling academically,” Klingemann said.