National Merit Scholar, Ethan McKenzie 


Ethan McKenzie is a commended student being recognized in this year’s National Merit Scholar program here at Poland Seminary High School. Winning a membership is no easy task; only the top 1.25% of test-takers attain this accolade. Overall, Ethan’s accomplishment revealed his outstanding potential for academic success. Ethan gives insight into his quest to becoming a National Merit Scholar. 

To begin, McKenzie reflects upon what it is like being a National Merit Scholar: “I feel grateful to have earned a spot as a National Merit Scholar. It means a lot to achieve such a high honor.”

In regards to preparation, McKenzie feels as though he was well-prepared. He explains how taking a myriad of practice tests can facilitate the studying process. 

He emphasized, “I feel like taking practice tests, both those offered by the school and those which could be found online is the best way to study for both the PSAT and the actual SAT and ACT; it provides real problems that are mirrored on future tests and gives you experience working at the pace needed for these standardized tests. I feel that I was as well prepared as I could be going into the test. I felt that I was taught everything I needed to know in school and was able to supplement it by practicing at home.”

In addition, McKenzie offers valuable tips in order to succeed on these tests. He notes that apprehension plays a significant role in the number of errors committed along the route. If you are too nervous, it can impede your score. Unequivocally, apprehension can ultimately make or break your score. 

He noted, “Do not be nervous. Fretting makes it easier to make mistakes. You have to be confident in your abilities, so you will end up making fewer mistakes and end up moving faster as you stop second-guessing yourself.” 

McKenzie had no particular strategy going into the test; however, he offered a word of encouragement: “You just gotta be the test. Don’t let it fool you. Get the upper hand and attack it while it’s weak.” 

According to McKenzie, devoting roughly 20 hours prior to taking the test is a fairly decent amount of time. He feels as though Poland’s education has done great in preparing him for this test. 

He pondered, “The ballpark is 20 hours the week before each test (especially the ACT). However, I feel that is not when studying is most important. I’ve been studying my whole life. Every class you take here in Poland is helping you for the test, so it is important to retain everything that you learn.”

In particular, McKenzie feels math was the most arduous portion of the test to complete; contrastingly, he feels reading was the easiest. 

He reflected, “I feel like math is the hardest because it is the least predictable in question type. I think readings are the easiest because it takes no prior knowledge, and it is based solely on what you interpret at the moment.” 

Furthermore, McKenzie does not find time management to be a formidable undertaking. That derives from the self-assurance he instilled in himself. 

He said, “I would like to think I’m pretty quick, and I would say that time management was never my greatest issue, but it is very important to go with your gut. There is no time to play around and check answers as you go. If you believe in yourself, it will go much smoother.”

In terms of difficulty, Mckenzie said, “The PSAT honestly went slightly better for me, but I felt like the ACT felt more rewarding, so I went with that one.”  

McKenzie believes that the practice tests are helpful as they serve as the epitome of the official test. 

He recollected, “It was pretty helpful. It gets you nervous, makes you feel a little bit stressed out, and then tells you exactly where you need to improve for the real test. It is a perfect example of what you are going to do when it really counts, so you might as well do it. No harm, no foul.”

In summation, much preparation, confidence, and dedication were all contributing factors that helped pave the way to Ethan’s selection as a National Merti Scholar. Congratulations, Ethan on your academic achievement!