The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced Kaiser seniors Ingus Stegis and Carlyn Kagamida as National Merit Scholar Semifinalists, as well as seniors Travis Nitta and Jacob Shinsato as Commended Students.
The National Merit Scholarship Program consists of three rounds. Starting with Program Recognition, out of 1.6 million entrants, the top 50,000 scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT qualify for recognition of the National Merit Scholarship Program. In September, the top 50,000 entrants are notified if they qualify for further recognition. Commended Students, including Shinsato and Nitta, make up about 34,000 entrants of the 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT, receiving Letters of Commendation for their remarkable academic achievements.
Stegis and Kagamida were two out of the 16,000 who made it one step closer to becoming a National Merit Scholar Finalist. Semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis. Stegis and Kagamida were some of the highest scoring entrants in the state of Hawaii. For a Semifinalist to become a Finalist, one has to complete a finalist application, in which a semifinalist fills out information about their college/career choices, describes their extracurricular activities, and writes an essay about a meaningful event or person. From there, semifinalists must continue to meet high academic standards. In February, 15,000 Semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to a finalist standing, with a Certificate of Merit given from their principal. In March, of those 15,000 finalists, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards the National Merit Scholarship to approximately 7,600 Finalists.
How did you prepare yourself to take this PSAT?
“I prepared for this PSAT by doing practice problems on Khan Academy and completing the practice test provided in the PSAT pamphlet.”- Carlyn Kagamida
“Khan Academy’s SAT prep. I had a tutor but they got some of the practice questions wrong so they didn’t stay long”- Ingus Stegis
We’re any of your family members a National Merit Scholar?
“My older brother, Colby Kagamida, was a National Merit Semifinalist and became a National Merit Finalist. My brother gave me testing tips to maximize efficiency.” – Carlyn Kagamida
“My mom was a semi-finalist and dad was commended” – Ingus Stegis
On average how many hours per week did you study for the PSAT?
“I started studying for the PSAT a week before and studied a total of 6 hours during that week.” – Carlyn Kagamida
“Studying? What’s that? (Lol actually like 1-3)”- Ingus Stegis
What does it take to become a National Merit Finalist and a full scholar?
“I think to be a National Merit Finalist, you have to be persistent to keep studying and doing practice tests to try and score your best on the PSAT. It takes a lot of discipline to study for the PSAT and then complete the essay and application if you qualify to be a semifinalist.” – Carlyn Kagamida
“You have to show that you’re a good little student but at the same time filling all your free time with productive things.”- Ingus Stegis
How did you juggle studying and normal school work?
“I actually procrastinated a lot in studying for the PSAT, which is why I only started studying a week before. However, homework for AP English Language & Composition helped me to study for the reading portion of the PSAT.” – Carlyn Kagamida
“If you have to move between assignments, you get distracted, so I try to finish up large sections of work at a time.” – Ingus Stegis