National Merit Semifinalists 2020

Four Strake Jesuit seniors have been named National Merit Semifinalists this year.
Congratulations to the following Strake Jesuit seniors who have been named as National Merit Semifinalists by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). These students were among the highest scorers in Texas on the October 2019 PSAT exam.  
 
The students being recognized are:

Ethan Gadbois 
Eishan Naik
Jacob Nguyen
Andrew Thampoe 

“I was excited to find out as I originally thought I just missed the cutoff. In regard to college applications, I think not only does it show colleges that I’m a dedicated student, but financially, it can provide tons of scholarship opportunities at a lot of colleges,” said Thampoe.
 
“I think it will certainly help strengthen my college applications as few students are able to qualify; it helps to distinguish you from those around you in college admissions, something that everyone who is applying wants the ability to do,” Gadbois added.
 
Most of our students prepare for the PSAT long before taking the exam.
 
“My first preparation for the PSAT/NMSQT really began when I took practice versions of the test in 9th and 10th grade on the normal October date at Strake Jesuit. In the month of August before my official exam, I also completed an SAT prep course which I found very helpful for multiple reasons: 1) It prepared me for both the SAT and PSAT by giving me experience with similar questions and formats between the two, 2) I took multiple practice tests in the span of a single week, so I was immersed in the full exam experience, and 3) I learned specific strategies for different exam questions that made my test-taking skills much quicker and more efficient,” said Naik.
 
Nguyen also has some advice for high school students. “I know that most people do not give their full effort on the PSAT because if they do poorly there is no penalty. Most see the PSAT as a practice exam for the SAT or ACT. However, I would encourage them to try their best to score well on it, because you never know if you could score high enough to qualify for the National Merit Program,” said Nguyen.
 
These seniors will next compete for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be offered next spring. Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered: National Merit $2,500 scholarships, corporate-sponsored scholarships, and college-sponsored scholarships.
 
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
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