National Merit SemiFinalists
ANKENY, Iowa (September 12, 2019) - The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of the Semiﬁnalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Among the honored students are: Ankeny Centennial High School seniors Madeline Gillette, Jeanne Peters, Nathan Petsche, Benjamin Rodriguez, and Ryan Vermeer; Ankeny High School senior Samuel Wu.
These academically talented high school seniors selected for this honor have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth about $31 million that will be offered in the spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, Semiﬁnalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.
About 90 percent of the Semiﬁnalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title. NMSC, a not-for-proﬁt organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
The National Merit® Scholarship Program honors individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
Steps in the 2020 Competition
About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 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.
To become a Finalist, the Semiﬁnalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application in which they provide information about the Semiﬁnalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received. A Semiﬁnalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school ofﬁcial, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that conﬁrm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 Semiﬁnalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the Finalist level and in February. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.