Jefferson claims 132 National Merit Semifinalists


Screenshot from the Fairfax County Public Schools’ 2013 press release.

Shayna Hume

Almost a year after the class of 2014 took their Preliminary SAT (PSAT), the names of the 2013 National Merit Semifinalists were released. Despite the lack of advertising of the press release, students found the list of 132 names from Jefferson almost immediately.

“It was definitely a surprise in retrospect. I didn’t really think about it or realize that it would get me anywhere,” senior Caroline Murton said. “Doing the PSAT in school was my prep for the SAT, and it was good to get that experience in.”

The regular SAT is measured out of 2400 points, divided evenly between the three sections of ‘Reading,’ ‘Writing’ and ‘Mathematics.’ The PSAT, on the other hand, is out of 240 points, also with equal point division.

The 132 Semifinalists from Jefferson were the majority of Fairfax County Public Schools’ 220 qualifiers. This year, the Virginia score requirement to make Semifinalist level was 222 out of 240—five points higher than 2012’s requirement of 217 points, and two points higher than 2011’s required 220 points. During those years, respectively, Jefferson garnered 146 Semifinalists and 156 Semifinalists.

“I was pretty shocked.  To my knowledge, it has hovered pretty consistently around 217 or 218 in the last few years,” senior Yana Kaplun, another Semifinalist, said. “I have many friends who were in that borderline range this year, and it’s disappointing that this is the year that the cutoff jumped up so much.”