By CATHY SUN
36 students from UHS qualified as semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship Program this school year, an increase of 14 from last year.
The scholarship is based on students’ Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) scores taken during their junior year, in addition to the SAT itself. Semifinalists are the highest scoring entrants in each state.
Of the 36 semifinalists, only six students did not receive any kind of additional help through the form of a prep academy or prep material. Fifteen students went to some sort of prep academy and fifteen students bought additional material to study.
These numbers suggest that students with access to resources in addition to public school education score higher on standardized exams like the SAT. This raises an important question regarding the fairness of standardized exams that seem to inherently favor students with the money and resources to purchase or access additional help.
UHS also has the highest number of semifinalists in Irvine high schools this year.
19 students from Northwood High School qualified as semifinalists, 13 students from Irvine High School qualified and 9 students from Woodbridge High School qualified.
Although the number of semifinalists from UHS has increased from the previous year, the number is still part of an overall downward trend that can be observed in the IUSD high schools. UHS had 54 students qualify in 2012, and that number has steadily decreased over the last three years, only to increase this school year.