Off the Field: National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

We’ll step Off the Field to take a closer look at some of the Republic students who are competing in non-sports activities. Our report is brought to you by State Farm Agent Sarah Rader. Talk to her about how you can save money by combining your home and auto insurance.

by Taylor Massey

Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school students take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), a standardized test designed to prepare students for the SAT in their junior year of high school. Besides getting experience with the test itself, around 1% of students who take the test score high enough to become National Merit Scholar Semifinalists. This year, Republic junior Wrigley Cook and senior Jacob Haralson have been awarded this distinction.

To enter the National Merit Scholarship Program, students have to meet certain criteria. For example, to be eligible for the scholarship, most students must be a junior when they take the test. However, those planning to graduate early are permitted to enter the program in their sophomore year. Cook was one of the few students who did this, after learning about the program from her mother.

“She knew about the program and knew that I would have to take the test my sophomore year if I was going to graduate early.” Cook said.

When referring to preparation for the test, Haralson already had one advantage.

“To prepare for the PSAT, I just used the materials that came with the packet I was given when I registered. The PSAT is also very similar to the ACT, so I used the ACT prep sources I had as well.”

Students who took the test had to wait around a year to receive their scores and find out if they had become a semifinalist. “I was pretty excited when I found out I was a semifinalist. I got a little impatient near the end,” Haralson said.

Cook also explained that finally getting her results was an exciting moment because of how they were given to her. “They gave the letter to Mr. Smashey, and he presented it to me before a tennis match. That moment was so incredibly special. . .they gave me the letter in such an unexpected way. Knowing that it was official was such a relief because that meant I could automatically go to Mizzou with my tuition and fees completely paid for.”

Both students will find out in early February if they become National Merit Scholars.

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