Five students at Delaware Hayes High School have been recognized for their scores on the PSAT.

Five students at Delaware Hayes High School have been recognized for their scores on the PSAT.

The College Board is a college- and career-ready institution that produces the PSAT, the SAT and many AP courses. The board also is behind the National Merit and National Achievement Scholarship program.

The National Merit program is open to all students; the National Achievement program is open to minority students.

In fall 2012, the PSAT was administered to juniors who wanted to take it.

Jessica Darcy, Hayes guidance counselor, said about 100 students from the high school opted to take the test.

"It's a fairly competitive test," she said. "There were just 100 students who took the test at our school, and we had finalists from that. Some schools have their entire junior class take the test."

Winners from Hayes are finalists Seamus O'Flaherty and Jason Watkins, semifinalist Maya McCabe and commended scholars Amy Co and Rachael Vonada.

Darcy said the school made the test available to students based on interest, but next year, all sophomores will be required to take the exam as part of new state legislation.

According to the College Board, about 1.5 million students take the test annually in the U.S. About 16,000 semifinalists are named based on test scores; that number is culled to 8,000 finalists who receive $2,500 scholarships.

Semifinalists are those who have scored in the top 1 percent of all those who take the test. They are then narrowed down by their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies based on their applications.

Darcy said once students are named semifinalists, they are required to fill out an application that includes background information, extracurricular activities and overall involvement in their school.

Commended scholars are those who scored in the top 5 percent and are recognized as those who show exceptional academic promise.

All finalists receive the same monetary award, although the award amount has varied year by year, Darcy said.

The test is not a college entry exam, but it shows students their potential for the SAT as well as areas they can improve to prepare for college or careers, she said.

According to the College Board, the test measures critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills and writing skills.