19 students announced among semifinalists for 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program


Photo by Stephenie Hau used with permission from Google Commons

2020 high school graduates in caps and gowns.

This September, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the semifinalists for the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship competition. 

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a national academic competition that provides opportunities for academically talented high school juniors to earn recognition and university scholarships. The program is administered by NMSC, an Illinois-based privately funded, not-for-profit organization that began in 1955. Students qualify for the National Merit program by achieving a high score on the PSAT. According to college prep site Cappex, “Roughly 1.5 million high school juniors take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall and about 50,000 of those students qualify for a scholarship. That means only 3% of the test takers will qualify. From that group, winners will be chosen based on their skills, extracurriculars and potential for success in college and beyond.”

It is a major accomplishment to be among the top scorers in the country and even those who are not selected as semifinalists open doors to academic recognition and opportunities by ranking high. One article by Prepscholar explains the competition ranking, saying, “The top 3-4% of scorers are named Commended Scholar. The top 1%, usually about 16,000 students, are named National Merit Semifinalists. Semifinalists may go on to apply for Finalist status and potentially win scholarship money.”

NMSC uses state percentiles and its own Selection Index to calculate the statewide cutoff scores needed to qualify for scholarships and then compare 11th grade PSAT scores by state. Although these cutoff scores fluctuate year by year, Prepscholar lists scores from last year’s competition that can be used to estimate each state’s cutoff scores for 2022. 

While recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Program is no small feat in any state, for students in DC and Maryland, the title of semifinalist signifies enormous academic talent, as the area had the highest cutoff score in the country for the 2021 competition. According to Prepscholar, “If you tested in Maryland or Washington DC, then the bar was especially high. You had to score at or above a 224. North Dakota and West Virginia had the lowest cutoffs at 207. The average cutoff for all states was 215.”

Maryland students across the state were announced as semifinalists for the 2022 competition this September and among them were 231 students from Montgomery County Public Schools. The MOCO Show listed the MCPS semifinalists, who come from 16 high schools: Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Walter Johnson, Walt Whitman, Clarksburg, Damascus, Gaithersburg, Quince Orchard, Northwest, Albert Einstein, Poolesville, Winston Churchill, Richard Montgomery, Sherwood, Montgomery Blair, Wheaton, and Thomas S. Wootton.

The 19 seniors at this school announced as National Merit Scholarship semifinalists in the 2022 competition are: 

Maanav V. Allampallam

Lawrence Y. Bu

Nicolas A. Depalma

Jasmine X. Gong

Kelly Ji

Srirashmika Kanipakala

Annika S. Kulkarni

Benjamin M. Li

Charles Mash

Keerthi A. Padmanabhan

Isra Qadri

Nicholas P. Qiu

Anjali S. Samavedam

Sophie E. Umansky

Shrutha Venkatesan

Shreeya Venkatesh Babu

Brandon J. Wang

Justin R. Wang

Michael D. Wang

NMSC says that 90-95% of the 16,000 semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half will be awarded a National Merit Scholarship next spring. The scholarship awards total about $30 million. 

The list of finalists will be released in February, and the scholarship winners will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and ending in July.