EHS Senior Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist


Each year, 1.5 million high school juniors take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Out of those 1.5 million students, 50,000 with the highest scores quality for the National Merit Scholarship Program. 16,000 of those 50,000 students are named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists. Semifinalists represent the highest scoring students in each state.

Clare, a student at Elkins High School, was named one of these honored semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

“I was really surprised, and even more so that I was the only one! There were a lot of people I thought were going to get it before me.” Clare said.

The selected high school seniors have the chance to continue competing for the 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth almost $28 million that will be awarded in the spring.

According to the College Board, It is projected that around 95% of the semifinalists will advance to finalist status, and that nearly 50% of the finalists will receive a National Merit Scholarship, awarding them the title of Merit Scholar.

“It’s a great honor to have even one student qualify. In the years past, we’ve sometimes had 2 and sometimes none,” Elkins High School guidance counselor, Amanada Carter explained.

Semifinalists must satisfy a series of requirements to move on to the finalist level of the competition.

The 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which acted as a first screening of program applicants, was the entry test for high school juniors into the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program.

Semifinalists must then submit a detailed scholarship application–outlining their academic records, involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership ability, jobs, honors, and awards–in order to be considered as finalists.

“There’s a lot of papers to fill out, and it is due soon, so that’s pretty stressful, but I’ll be ok,” Talbott joked.

Multiple firms and business organizations will offer corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships to finalists who match specific requirements, such as being residents of communities where the sponsor has operations or being the children of donor employees. In addition, it is expected that roughly 160 colleges and universities will fund Merit Scholarships for winners who plan to attend the sponsor institution.

Current Elkins High School juniors can take the PSAT/NMSQT on October 25th this year to have the chance to earn the honor themselves.