Marshalltown High School senior James Talbert is among approximately 16,000 semifinalists in the 60th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Talbert and the other semifinalists have the opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth about $33 million. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level. About 90 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing and more than half of finalists will win a scholarship.
About 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2015 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, 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.
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.