OSSINING, N.Y. When Kenyon Winfield's mother heard that National Merit Finalists get a full scholarship to some colleges, she told Winfield to study for the PSAT exam.
The studying paid off because Winfield, 16, a senior at Ossining High School who lives in Briarcliff, is the only Ossining student to be selected this year to become a National Merit Semifinalist.
"I was surprised I was the only one because there are some pretty smart kids in my school," Winfield said. "I guess I feel proud and my mom is proud too."
National Merit Semifinalists are chosen based on PSAT test scores. Winfield scored 219 out of 240 on the PSAT exam.
As a semifinalist, Winfield is eligible to become a National Merit Finalist, a distinction that may mean a full scholarship to some colleges and $1,000 per year for other schools. 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.
"You have to get in the 99th percentile to be a finalist and my mom was like, 'Oh Kenyon you could definitely get that, go study,'" Winfield said.
On the SAT exam, Winfield scored 2070 out of 2400 and he is planning on taking the exam again next Saturday because he feels he can score better. To prepare for the PSAT and SAT exams, Winfield used "one of those giant books" that are sold to help students prepare for the exams.
"I sort of looked through it and used it to get used to the testing format," he said. "I would say for anyone wanting to do well on the PSAT, study. It can't hurt, it can only help."
Winfield is still in the process of applying to colleges. Colleges on his application list include Yale, MIT, Brown University, Amherst College and Swarthmore.
Apart from studying, Winfield also runs cross country and he teaches tae kwon do to children at the United Martial Arts Center in Briarcliff. Winfield holds a third degree black belt in martial arts.
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