Student Qualifies to Semifinals in National Merit Scholarship


Neda Morrow

Senior Andre Samaraweera holds his semifinalist certificate for the National Merit Scholarship.

Andrew Velarde, Managing Editor of Videography and Photography

On September 9, senior Andre Samaraweera  qualified as a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship. In the spring, Samaraweera will find out if he has qualified for the finalist position.

Seeing my score [on the PSAT] was by far the most exciting because it felt gratifying to see all my hard work pay off,” Sameraweera said. “I was happy that I could qualify to get a scholarship because of my academic scores.”

The National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship awarded to those who do well on the Preliminary SAT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). The National Merit Scholarship Corporation will grant  around 7,600 students the scholarship after an intense filtering of about 1.6 million entries.

“The most difficult part of the PSAT was actually having to study,” Samaraweera said. “I had to force myself to actually study, because I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t do well and would probably not make as high of a score as I had.”

Samaraweera took the PSAT his junior year and got a 1450/1520 and missed three questions in English and made a perfect score on the math portion. As a semifinalist he has already passed multiple stages in the selection process and now competes with only around 16,000 students for scholarships.

“So far it hasn’t helped me, but if I become a finalist I get a small scholarship and the main aspect is that [getting there at all] it comes with prestige,” Samaraweera said. ”It was exciting [because] I’ve never really won anything of this caliber before, so I felt proud and accomplished.”

The first scholarship opportunities are single-payment scholarships worth $2,500; the second scholarship is a corporate-sponsored scholarship which is for finalists with career plans the sponsor wishes to encourage. Finally there is the college-sponsored scholarship which is where officials of each sponsor college select winners of their awards from finalists who have been accepted for admission.

“It’s just a PSAT, the real SAT has a lot more impact on my future,” Samaraweera said. “It’s not hard to know everything for the PSAT, the difficulty lies in applying everything perfectly.”