Three students accepted as National Merit Scholarship finalists


Senior Nick Walker holding his National Merit Scholarship semifinalist certificate. Photo courtesy of Nick Walker.


Kate Kotlyar staff writer

Three seniors earned the title of being National Merit Scholarship Competition (NMSC) finalists, which were announced in February 2020. 

Seniors Parsa Farnad, Bradley Moon and Nick Walker each placed as NMSC finalists. The Preliminary SAT (PSAT)/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board to high school sophomores and juniors. Each year, roughly 3.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT, but only 16,000 students are selected for NMSC semifinalists. Out of those semifinalists, 15,000 are selected as finalists. 

Farnad did not know what the NMSC was when he found out he was a semifinalist.

“I got a text from Bradley Moon, saying, ‘Congratulations’ and I wasn’t sure how to respond because I didn’t know what it was. Then I looked into it and I still wasn’t sure what it was,” Farnad said. “Then people were congratulating me and the theater teacher said that it was a really big deal and I was like, ‘Oh, okay, cool.’”

When Farnad received the official news about being a finalist, he felt “really proud” of himself. 

“[The NMSC] sent a letter on it and it said that 1% of graduating high schoolers in the entire United States get to be a [semi]finalist,” Farnad said. “When I read that I was like, ‘Woah! That’s a really small amount.’ So, there was a lot of pride thinking that I am special in my abilities and [it was] affirming.”

Similarly to Farnad, winning helped Walker by giving him a “nice confidence boost.” But, the confidence was not the only plus to come with winning. 

“There are a few benefits to being a National Merit finalist, among which I can put it on my college applications, and I did––I was able to notify my colleges that I had qualified. So, I think that strengthened my applications to an extent,” Walker said. 

While Walker was not “shocked” to find out that he was a finalist because 90 percent of semifinalists become finalists, he was still “extremely grateful” to win.

For Moon, finding out was “anticlimactic” because of his busy schedule. 

“At the time, I was really busy. I was preparing for the AIME, studying for all sorts of things, behind in school work and whatnot,” Moon said. “It always feels good to get recognition like that, but it wasn’t something that I’d even known was coming out that day because I was just completely out of it.” 

Moon’s journey for studying for the PSAT and SAT was “rewarding” because of the process, rather than the actual reward. 

“The process towards winning it, like studying for the SAT––I feel like that was a personal growth…experience for me,” Moon said. “I felt like I grew up and that helped me develop my work ethic more.”