Big money

National merit exam may pay off big for juniors with scholarship money

It was no ordinary test, although many may not have realized it.
Students were given the opportunity to take the Preliminary SAT, or National Merit Exam, on Oct. 15.
“It’s an important test,” principal Thomas Lietz said, “and it can yield some impressive scholarships and opportunities.”
Although PSAT finalists earn $2,500 in scholarships, many schools give even more money, including full-rides.
“I wasn’t planning on taking the test,” junior Mandy Cole said, “then I found out I can get a lot of money toward college.”
This year, 17 Macomb County students qualified as semi-finalists. In neighboring Oakland County, that number was approximately 270, almost half of Michigan’s total.
Armed with this information, Lietz, who believes Macomb County students are just as smart as those in Oakland, launched a campaign to encourage juniors to take the exam.
“Our job is to get kids into college,” Lietz said. ‘‘We are trying to do better with the way we communicate about it. I don’t think a lot of kids realize the benefits of taking the exam.”
For information about preparing for the exam, visit