BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y Briarcliff High School senior Rebecca Weiss was excited to find out that she is one of three Briarcliff students who have been chosen to be a National Merit Semifinalist.
"It's an extra thing that sets you apart," she said during an interview with semifinalists on Wednesday.
The other two National Merit Semifinalists from Briarcliff High School are Chetan Khanna and Aaron Rosen.
"When you're looking for something that's a distinction, (being a semifinalist) is one thing that pushes in your favor," Khanna said.
National Merit Semifinalists are chosen based on PSAT test scores. Weiss scored 222 out of 240, while Khanna and Rosen scored 221.
As semifinalists, Weiss, Khanna and Rosen are eligible to become National Merit Finalists, a distinction that may mean full scholarships to some colleges, and $1,000 per year for other colleges. In order to become a finalist, semifinalists must fill out an application that asks for an essay and recommendations, and they must score well on the SAT exam.
Khanna, who is of Indian descent, has already won money from the local Indian community for having the highest PSAT score. The community gave him $501 -- $500 for scoring well and an extra dollar because the number one is auspicious.
"I actually studied to take the SATs. I took a two-week SAT course offered by Princeton Review," Khanna said. "You do practice tests and they are graded for you, and you learn how to do specific things in math problems, reading and essays."
Rosen also prepared for the SAT and PSAT by taking a PSAT prep course that is offered at Briarcliff High School.
"You do practice tests and they tell you why this is right and this is wrong," Rosen said.
Weiss said she did not do much preparation for the PSAT, other than looking over some practice problems the night before the exam. For the SAT exam, she prepared by studying vocabulary words.
"I think the SAT does help you learn to think analytically," Weiss said.
Khanna agreed. "The math is not just about math, it's about problem solving," he said. "You learn to look at problems in a different way and to think outside the box."
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