Six in a Million: TCHS Students Honored as National Merit Scholars for Excellent PSAT Scores

In 2015, 1.6 million students nationwide took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Out of these 1.6 million students, only 34,000 were commended. Six of these students attend Timber Creek.

In September, six seniors were commended as National Merit Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. This means that with their transcripts, community service, and most importantly, PSAT scores, they earned the title of being in the top five percent out of the 1.6 million students who took the 2015 PSAT/NMSQT, and even though they will not continue in the 2017 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, they will carry this title for the rest of their academic career.

“The young men and women being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” said a spokesperson for NMSC, “these students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in the academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation.”

Not only does being commended by the NMSC give students incredible honor, but it also is a foreshadowing into the future of out local, state, or even national success. These students have demonstrated an inspiring amount of academic excellence, and it is exciting that these six students came from Timber Creek High School.

When asked for the source of academic motivation, Catherine Kosek, current valedictorian and also one of the six commended seniors, commented,

“My parents play a large role in my academic success. My mom read to me daily when I was a toddler and taught me to read at a very young age. While other students were still learning basic reading and writing, I could read basic chapter books on my own. My dad used to make math worksheets for my sister and I to complete over breaks; I remember learning basic algebra in elementary school,” Kosek says, “My parents have always worked to give me every opportunity and advantage they can to ensure my academic success. My motivation for academic success in elementary and middle school was fear of disappointing my parents, but by the time I got to high school, my motivation was internal. I do well in school and challenge myself with ridiculous numbers of AP courses because I know I can. I enjoy the challenge of succeeding in school.”

How does early learning and taking AP courses help out with the PSAT/NMSQT? It is evident that the more a student practices outside of the PSAT and SAT, the higher the score the student will receive on the actual test itself.

“The more years of experience I had, the easier the questions were. When I first took the test as a freshman, my math score was significantly lower than my reading and writing scores, but after taking geometry and algebra II, my math score junior year was much closer to my reading,” Kosek said, “I also benefited from taking the test several times before it really counted my junior year.”

Kosek has taken the optional PSAT her freshman year, and the required PSATs during her sophomore and junior year. So, with practice in math classes, AP classes, and testing experience, Kosek was able to heighten her chances at being commended.

The same goes for Payton Chronister, the current salutatorian for Timber Creek High School.

“Honestly, I didn’t study for the PSAT. I didn’t really know about the National Merit Scholarship [Program] until after I took the test. However, I took the PSAT freshman, sophomore, and junior year, and I think that experience really helped me when I took the SAT,” Chronister said, “I was more comfortable when I was testing, and I knew what kinds of questions I struggled with, which helped me study for the SAT.”

“While the PSAT offers great scholarships and opportunities, I wouldn’t worry too much about that when you’re taking it. My advice is to just focus on using it as a learning experience and study took for the actual SAT later on. Stressing about [the PSAT] isn’t going to improve your performance, so just go into the testing center with the knowledge that your PSAT score can only help you,” Chronister advised.

So, yes: it is absolutely accessible to achieve greatness, always.

The valedictorian and salutatorian of Timber Creek High School are not the only ones who have served as outstanding academic examples. The other students include Woo Jeong, Hoyeon Kim, Katerina Orgunov, and Andrew Shore. Congratulations on the recognition!

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