2,500 National Merit Scholarship winners for 2018. They were among more than 15,000 finalists in the running for $2,500 scholarships offered by the Evanston-based National Merit Scholarship Corporation. National Merit winners are the finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s graduating high school seniors. Scholars were selected by a committee of college admissions officers and high school counselors.
The committee looked at several factors, including the student’s academic record, including the difficulty level of subjects studies and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; a personal essay; and a recommendation written by a high school official.
This year’s National Merit Scholarship Program began in October 2016 when more than 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than 1 percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semifinalists. From the semifinalist group, some 15,000 students met the academic standards and other requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.