By: Ashley Ricks
Oak Grove High School juniors took the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) on October 14. This is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship, sponsored by the National Merit Corporation. The top three percent of the junior students who take this test will be named high scorers in April, and most will be named semifinalists for the scholarship the following September. But the work doesn’t stop there. The semifinalist will have to submit applications including an essay, transcripts and recommendations. They will also have to take the SAT to confirm their PSAT score. If the student is lacking in any of these areas, the student will not advance to the finalist level. Being a semifinalist or finalist on this test can bring great benefits for any college-bound student. Some colleges, such as Southern Miss, will give full scholarships along with other benefits. Other colleges, mostly out of state, will offer competition packages for National Merit finalists.
Most students don’t simply show up the day of the test their junior year and hope for the best, most start preparation as a freshman. Oak Grove recently discovered that students are allowed to take the test both freshman and sophomore years to get familiar with the format of the test. Another way students have prepared is by enrolling in the Humanities class taught by Andrea Clark. The class has been known to raise scores by 20-50 points. In the class, students take practice tests to identify their problem areas and figure out the best way to work through them. Clark helps students improve test taking skills and overcome any anxieties or obstacles distracting students from doing their best. “As part of my philosophy of teaching, I encourage the students to understand their improvement is a result of their effort, not some lucky accident that just happened to them,” Mrs. Clark said.
A main goal of the PSAT and humanities class is to help students get money for college and broaden their opportunities.