Five seniors named National Merit Scholarship finalists
Seniors Kelsey Ericksen, Dara Kharabi, Adrienne Nims, Reuben Levy-Myers and Scott Reid were recently named 2013 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.
According to a National Merit Scholarship Corporation press release, they are among 229 students in Fairfax County and 16,000 students nationwide who will compete for 8,300 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $32 million.
This pool represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors and includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
The number of semifinalists from South Lakes is higher this year than it has been in the past. Last year Manavi Bhagwat from the Class of 2012 was the only semifinalist.
Semifinalist status is typically determined based on PSAT scores. However, certain students, including Kharabi, Levy-Myers and Reid, earned the honor in an unconventional manner.
“I took the PSAT last year and I got a 228, which is a fairly good score,” Kharabi said. “The school did not send my score to the National Merit Scholarship
Corporation though, nor did they send the scores of anyone else who was taking the test in the classroom that I was in. This was because the person who was in charge of sending the scores thought that we were all seniors, which, in fact, we weren’t. As a result, we had to take the SAT instead and report those scores to the corporation.”
Levy-Myers sees the mistake as a happy accident since it worked out in his favor.
“My dad wants me to write a thank-you note to the teacher responsible for the mess-up,” Levy-Myers said.
Regardless of what scores they submitted, the majority of the semifinalists found that taking practice tests was the most effective study method.
“It’s kind of like running,” Kharabi said. “You can’t just get up and run a marathon. You have to run one mile, then two miles, and work your way up. For me, it’s less about learning the material and more about becoming accustomed to taking the test.”
Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to earn finalist standing. These include demonstrating high academic performance and submitting an application with a recommendation from their high school principal.
Students will learn if they advanced to the finalist level of competition in February.
Beginning in March, they will find out if they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship award.
“Earning a National Merit Scholarship would definitely be exciting and it would make the college process a bit easier,” Reid said.