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Confessions of a National Merit Finalist3 min read

National Merit Scholarship CoporationThere always comes a feeling of apprehension whenever I tell someone I was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. The thing that I anticipate is the moment when that someone asks what my PSAT score was and the awkward process of explaining that my Finalist status was based on my SAT score.

“What? Your SAT score? How does that work? Can you even do that?” I may as well explain it now. Practice makes perfect after all.

Dee Baker Voice Acting
It’s always fun listening to an audiobook and hearing the one reader stretch to give each character a unique voice.

I’ve always been a very slow reader. In high school, I made a habit of asking teachers if I could listen to the required reading on CD instead of actually reading it, just to keep up with everyone else. More to the point, my teachers also gave me extra time on tests and certain assignments, and when the time came to take the PSAT, I made a request to the College Board that I receive similar accommodations. Extra time was granted, but apparently my school didn’t get the memo, since I ended up taking the test with normal time limits. I guess I just didn’t put two and two together when I recognized all the other students in the room and knew that they didn’t have the problems with reading that I had. Needless to say, I was a bit disillusioned when I received my score.


After thoroughly giving my school’s “administrators” a piece of my mind, I gave up on them and turned my attention back to the College Board. (Administrators, if you’re reading this, please don’t be mad. I’m just being facetious.) They agreed to give me extra time on the SAT easily enough. The hard part – or I suppose I should say tedious part – was getting the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to base whether I qualified on my SAT score. I imagine a bunch of old men sitting around a table saying, “Highly irregular, you know.”(National Merit Scholarship Corporation, if you’re reading this, please don’t be mad. I’m just being facetious.) In the end though, I was given my second chance.

He's just mad because he can't be as cool as me.
He’s just mad because he can’t be as cool as me.

The rest plays out a bit like Rocky if I was the titular hero and Testmasters was his trainer Mickey. This was my last chance, and I couldn’t afford not to train. Of course, Testmasters’ SAT program helped me immensely, and in the end, I emerged with a score worthy of my status as a National Merit Scholarship Finalist.

I guess the moral of my story is, ask for the things you know you need, don’t let it go when you feel cheated, never be afraid to ask for help, and always strive for success in every way you feel you deserve.

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My name is Sam, and I look forward to sharing similar experiences to this one with all of you as I write for College Compass. Be sure  to comment or Ask Test Masters.

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