Three Redwood seniors named National Merit Scholar Semifinalists

Annie Fogarty

Three Redwood seniors were named National Merit Scholar semifinalists by the National Merit Corporation on Sept. 14.

Audrey Gaither, Jeremy Goldwasser and Scott McCrae qualified as semifinalists due to their high test scores on the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) in October 2015.

Redwood is the only high school in the Tamalpais Union High School District to have semifinalist qualifiers this year. Last year, no students in the Redwood class of 2016 were selected as semifinalists.

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The national pool of 16,000 semifinalists represents less than one percent of the 1.6 million high school students who took the test last fall, according to a National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) press release.

Gaither, McCrae and Goldwasser scored 1520, 1510, and 1480 respectively on the PSAT/NMSQT.

The semifinalist cut off scores vary by state, reflecting the top one percent of each state. This year California’s cut off Selection Index was 221 out of 240. The PSAT Index score is calculated by doubling the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing score and adding it to the Math score, according to the NMSC.

Semifinalists can continue in the competition for 15,000 finalist spots and an opportunity to receive one or more of the 7,600 scholarships offered in spring 2017.

Having taken the SAT, Goldwasser is planning to continue in the National Merit scholarship competition. However, McCrae and Gaither have not decided whether they will continue in the competition.

“In order to qualify for the finalist scholarships, you need to take the SAT. [McCrae] and I took the ACT so I don’t know if I will go through another four-hour test to become a finalist,” Gaither said.

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Though she received an outstanding score, Gaither believed that the scores are not a holistic representation of an individual’s success.

“The standardized test is definitely not the only indicator of success, but I think we are all proud of ourselves,” Gaither said.

McCrae said that it is great to be acknowledged for his achievement, but that the standardized test favors students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

“We are all more than our test scores. Test scores aren’t a measure of intelligence and more a measure of how well you take the test,” McCrae said. “It’s nice [to be recognized], but it’s not an unbiased exam.”