Bishop Watterson High School

Siblings named National Merit semifinalists

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Twins Matt and Megan Neary, Upper Arlington residents who attend Bishop Watterson High School, were both named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

Academic ability is a family affair in the Neary household in Upper Arlington -- twins Matt and Megan Neary earned stellar scores and were recently named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists.

The twins, seniors at Bishop Watterson High School, took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test last year as juniors. As semifinalists, they have the opportunity to compete for $35 million worth of National Merit Scholarships offered nationwide.

Matt also earned the highest possible score on the ACT college admission test -- a composite score of 36. Only 781 of the more than 1.66 million students who took the ACT in 2012 earned a 36, according to Colleen Mar, communications director at Bishop Watterson High School.

The twins are the children of Brenda and Christopher Neary.

Mrs. Neary said Matt and Megan "are very different people, but still best friends and always have been."

"We had four other children before they were born, so we have a low-key house anyway, but the news that they were both named semifinalists was pretty awesome," she said. "They are both obviously excellent students."

Matt said he is undecided on what college he'll attend, but plans to major in math and computer science.

"I would be interested in working in finance or something entrepreneurial," he said.

He already has a head start in the entrepreneurial category, since he is the founder and owner of his own app development firm.

"I made my first app at the beginning of my sophomore year," he said. "It was an imaging text for note-taking. I've also made some math and science tools and distributed them through iTunes."

Forget about learning his test-taking secrets, however. When asked how he prepared for the scholarship test, he said, "I didn't."

"I did do some preparation for the ACT test, though," he said. "I think my Latin class and my English classes at Watterson helped me a lot with the language parts of the test."

Matt also is a member of the high school Robotics Club and Business Club.

Megan said she will attend the Ohio State University next fall, to major in biology and English.

"I plan to attend medical school after that, to become a doctor," she said.

She volunteers as a candy striper at Riverside Methodist Hospital and is vice president of fundraising for the Watterson National Honor Society. She also is a member of the St. Brigid youth group CORE team and has a part-time job at Northwest Swim Club.

Megan said she helps to plan the events for the CORE team.

This Neary did prepare for the scholarship test -- by taking a practice course for the SAT and working on timed practice tests.

Her advice for students taking the test is to answer the questions they know right away.

"I answered all of the questions, but marked the ones I was not sure of so I could go back and look at them again," she said.

Both brother and sister have taken four Advanced Placement courses so far in high school. Megan said their interest in specific subjects, though, can be very different.

"He is more interested in math and computers than I am," she said of her twin.