130 minutes, 125 questions ranging from mind-numbingly basic find-the-interior-angle to seemingly impossible complete-the-passage, and 135 eager, newly-indoctrinated MSMS "junies" equals a day of paper rustling, yawn stifling, and scantron oval bubbling. The October 18 PSAT test date is a vaguely-remembered, living nightmare to some and a chance to make scholarship dreams true to others.
Nearly five months after the test date, once the PSAT had slipped from the less eager students' minds, 22 MSMS juniors received confirmation that they would be "recognized in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program" according to Academic Director Kelly Brown's email. At first, some recognized students were unsure of what they were actually being recognized for.
Ella Stone, one recognized student, said "At first I thought it meant I officially was a Semi finalist, but then I realized that I am only in the running to become a Semifinalist. I am still excited because I am in the running for National Merit."
Students are not yet National Merit Scholars but are instead listed as "students whose scores qualify them for recognition. MSMS administration received the notification "to identify any errors or changes in the reported eligibility of their high scorers," and chose to share the good news with students.
While often categorized as a mindless standardized test that measures testing abilities and not actual intelligence, the PSAT/NMSQT is a mouthful of an acronym and a possibly over-rated high school test. Students take the test only once to enter the lucrative National Merit Scholarship running. As a literal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, National Merit Scholar recognition is difficult to obtain and over-valued according to some educators, parents, and students.
"My grades and performance here at MSMS are far more important to me, but I still feel like the PSAT was kind of a big deal for me, simply because I wanted it so badly," said Stone.
This "want" will power many of the recognized students to anxiously wait until early next school year for the Semifinalist announcement and then eagerly fill out their paperwork for the finalist position.
While it may take an enormous amount of forethought to look almost an entire, work-filled MSMS school year ahead, Stone recommends to future test takers a bit of advice she received from MSMS senior and National Merit Finalist Ben Emmich: "Go in there confident and knowing that you are going to ace it." After all, and she and 21 other juniors scribbled, bubbled, and aced the PSAT with those or similar motivational words in their mind.