Four New Albany High School seniors recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. have plenty of advice for juniors preparing to take Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test and for underclassmen in general.
Three of them -- Piper Hill, Lokita Rajan and Vickie Wang -- are semifinalists in the National Merit scholarship competition, and Ama Koranteng is a National Achievement Scholar semifinalist.
Hill, 17, said it's more important to be rested than it is to study before taking the test.
"Sleep is more important," Hill said. "If you pay attention to life and are smart, you should be fine."
Hill also recommended reading a lot of good books to increase vocabulary.
Rajan, 17, agreed with Hill that the test is based on cumulative knowledge.
"You have to pay attention in class all through high school," Rajan said. "Don't bother to cram for it. It really won't help."
Koranteng, 17, encourages her peers to find a subject they like and focus on it because it could end up being their career.
"If you find a subject, something you end up liking a lot, I really think you have to go for it," Koranteng said.
Wang, 16, agreed.
"Have dreams and work for those dreams -- actually work," Wang said. "Your dreams don't have to be like becoming a National Merit semifinalist or winning whatever other miscellaneous awards there are out there. Your dreams should be about what you enjoy doing. The awards come second."
The students said they have enjoyed different aspects of their years in New Albany-Plain Local schools.
Hill said her favorite part has been the theater, and said she's been part of every high school production in the past few years.
She said the teachers also are special.
"I do like most of the faculty," Hill said. "They're pretty awesome. We have great faculty here."
Rajan agreed that teachers are helpful and they pay special attention to student ideas.
"My favorite thing about this school is how supportive the administration and faculty are of student initiatives," she said.
Rajan said when she wanted to form a junior statesman organization, a political activism club, teachers helped her.
Koranteng said New Albany schools feel "more like a community."
She said students see each other outside of school at events and students do a lot together.
Wang had a similar perspective.
"Everyone's so friendly and the teachers are so dedicated and helpful," Wang said. "You can tell that they really have the students' best interests in mind. Also, there are plenty of people who are willing to listen if you ever need someone to talk to."
Hill said she hopes to attend Oxford University in England to study psychology, philosophy or linguistics.
Rajan said she wants to attend the Ohio State University, perhaps studying public health, which combines two of her two passions: science and public policy.
Koranteng said she would like to study mechanical or chemical engineering somewhere on the west or east coasts.
Wang said she would like to go to college out of state and study science, such as biochemistry or biomedicine.
About 1.5 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state.
The scholarship finalists, who will be announced next spring, are chosen based on their "skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies," according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
The National Achievement Scholar Program also is based on the PSAT and recognizes outstanding black American high school students.
There are more than 160,000 students who enter the program annually and about 1,600 -- 1 percent -- are named semifinalists, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
Achievement scholarship finalists also will be announced next spring.