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The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill

The World Is Our Campus

The Arcadia Quill


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11 AHS Seniors named as National Merit Semifinalists

AHS students continued to showcase their exceptional academic achievements through the National Merit Scholarship Competition

Arcadia High School (AHS) seniors have once again excelled in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) competition, with a total of 11 students earning National Merit Semifinalist status this year. These outstanding Semifinalists include Isaac Cheng, Hongji Dai, Casey Kim, Kaitlyn Kwan, Caroline Li, Jeffrey Oo, Steven Shi, Philip Tan, William Wong, Felicia Ye, and Katelyn Yu. 

The recognition was assessed through the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which evaluates college readiness in reading, writing, and math. 

The test was taken by over 1.3 million students across the country, and 1.2% of all students nationwide achieved the honor. The 11 AHS seniors’ remarkable achievements demonstrate their exceptional skills, all attained in a fiercely competitive setting.

Due to the test’s difficulty, in which students have to answer high-level questions in a short amount of time, preparation can be challenging. Senior Casey Kim shared his approach to test preparation.

“Preparing for the test, I really scoured the internet for any PSAT prep I could find,” said Kim. “I found Khan Academy’s practice tests useful, as well as some other tests I found online.”

Additionally, Kim said he would do these practice tests “conventionally and unconventionally,” in which his practice test taking location varied from his room with a timer set to a very bumpy ride on the Pep Band bus while going to a football game. 

Becoming a Semifinalist was never Kim’s intention, but rather, getting a decent PSAT score. He appreciates this honor as it serves as an indication that he achieved his goal.

“I’m honored to have been recognized as a Semifinalist, and it was definitely a surprise when I found out. I’m gratified to see that the hard work I put into studying has actually proven worthwhile,” said Kim.

Senior Steven Shi also appreciates the honor of being a National Merit Semifinalist and said it was truly incredible when Dr. Angie Dillman surprised them with the news. 

“I would say that this privilege is not just my own, but my parents, who helped me reach this level in my education,” said Shi. “ My mom constantly pushed me to be goal-oriented, and my dad taught me to aim for success, not perfection. In that way, I am glad that not just my hard work paid off, but that of my parents too.”

Out of the 16,000 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists, more than 15,000 are expected to become finalists in February 2024, and they will have the opportunity to compete for nearly 7,140 scholarships, collectively valued at almost $28 million. The 11 Semifinalists will work with their counselors to submit detailed scholarship applications, including academic records, extracurriculars, leadership and honors. To advance, they need an excellent academic record, a school official’s recommendation, an essay, and a confirming SAT or ACT score.

Congratulations to all the National Merit Semifinalists, and best wishes for the remaining stages of the competition!


Photo courtesy of AUSD

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