Last month, over one million juniors across the country participated in the PSAT/NMSQT to practice for the SAT and have a shot at being recognized as a “National Merit Semi-finalist” by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Every year, about 16,000 of the 1.5 million entrants are named semi-finalists. In other words, the top 0.01% of scores qualifies for semi-finalist recognition. At Council Rock High School South, eight students have been named semi-finalists.
Claire Chu, one of the eight semi-finalists from South, shares her thoughts on achieving this incredible honor. To Claire, this achievement means that “self-motivation is really one of the more important factors for success.” She is happy to have tested this well and receive recognition for her hard work. She also believes that this accomplishment indicates that there are many more goals of hers that can be reached.
Claire reveals that she actually prepared for the SATs and saw the PSATs as an opportunity to practice. She adds that the summer before her junior year, she learned SAT vocabulary words and a few weeks before the actual test she began doing many practice problems. As someone who has already gone through the process of preparing for the PSAT and other standardized tests, Claire offers some simple yet essential advice to students preparing for standardized tests. She says that with practice, “you start to develop a feel for what the test is asking and what answers it’s looking for.”
When asked about her opinion of standardized tests, Claire says that the PSATs “don’t determine intelligence or future success.” So, it is important to not get too stressed out about these things.
Outside the world of standardized tests, Claire is an active student both inside and outside of the classroom. She is in several honor societies and is also on the debate team. Claire plays violin for and is the president of South’s orchestra. In addition, she also plays piano and has participated in Honors Audition Piano Recitals for the New Jersey Music Teachers Association for the past nine years. Claire also teaches at a Chinese Language School. She was a finalist in the Penn State Essay Contest last year, and she has also performed well on national French and mathematics exams.
Claire has interests in many different subjects, so she is still deciding what career she would like to pursue. Her recent National Merit recognition, as well as her other achievements, serve as testimony to how hard work really does pay off.
PHOTO CAP: Claire Chu