Nearly 17% of students enrolled at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Schools earned the designation of Semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

For 141 Mississippi high school seniors, the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Competition brought good news: these super-smart students have earned the celebrated “Semifinalist” designation. In order to do so, they had to score among the top 1% of Mississippi students who took the PSAT/NMSQT in October of 2020. These brilliant students demonstrated that not even a global pandemic could hold back their aspirations. 

As a percentage of the senior class, St. Andrew’s Episcopal School took top honors, with roughly 17% of students qualifying as Semifinalists, followed by Mississippi School for Math and Science (MSMS) with roughly 13% of high school seniors qualifying. For the comparison, the national average is just 1%, meaning that St. Andrew’s is graduating brilliant students at 17 times the national average.

However, academically-inclined Mississippians don’t have to pay for private school tuition or drive off to boarding school—they could also live in the Jackson suburb of Madison, Mississippi. Madison Central High School remains a perennial talent magnet for Mississippi’s top students with nearly 6% of its senior class earning the Semifinalist designation. 

To win the coveted “Semifinalist” designation in Mississippi, students must have scored at a 211 or higher (out of 228). This is roughly equivalent to earning a composite score of 1400 (out of 1600) on the SAT. This cutoff score was unchanged from the previous year.

Semifinalists are eligible for full rides (free tuition and housing) to Ole Miss and Mississippi State (valued at more than $60,000) plus more than 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships and 4,000 college-sponsored scholarships.

Click here to go straight to the names of the winners!

About the National Merit Scholarship Competition

Steps in the Year-Long Road to Scholarship Awardee

wdt_ID Step Deadline Description
1 Take the Junior PSAT Mid October In a non-pandemic year, about 1.5 million high school juniors take the PSAT during school in October. However, students who cannot attend the in-school sitting may participate through a method known as "Alternate Entry" using SAT Scores instead.
2 Semifinalists Announced September 15th 2021 NMSC releases the names of Semifinalists to the news media. Roughly 16,000 high school students will qualify based off scoring in the top 1% of their state.
3 Students Take ACT/SAT Sept./Oct. 2021 Respectively Semifinalists should aim to take the ACT and SAT on their respective test dates in September and October. Students who take the tests later than these dates will likely not get their scores in time to be eligible for the full NMSC award.
4 Finalist Application Deadline October 6th, 2021 Semifinalists submit an application through their high school, which must include an endorsement from the school and records of high academic achievement.
5 ACT/SAT Scores Due December 31st, 2021 The NMSC must receive a Semifinalists's official SAT and/or ACT scores by December 31st in order for the student to be considered for the Finalist designation and full scholarship.
6 Finalists Announced February 14th, 2022 NMSC mails letters to Finalists. Roughly 95% of Semifinalists make the Finalist designation.
7 Scholarships Awarded March - May 2022 NMSC will begin offering National Merit $2,500 Scholarships awards beginning on March 24th, 2022. Corporate-sponsored awards may be offered earlier; college-sponsored awards are awarded beginning in May 2022.

Nationally, over 1.5 million students participate in the National Merit Scholarship competition beginning the fall of their junior year. Juniors from more than 20,000 US high schools compete by sitting for what is essentially an abbreviated, practice SAT (PSAT).

Of these, approximately 16,000 students earned the designation “Semifinalist.” (An additional 34,000 students earned a “Commended” by scoring above a 209 out of 228). National Merit Semifinalists can qualify for a wide range of both corporate- and college-sponsored scholarships.

Around 90% of Semifinalists will go on to become National Merit Finalists; 2,500 students will eventually gain the title of National Merit Scholar, which comes with a $2,500 scholarship. Read more about the requirements to become a Merit Finalist or Merit Scholar

Top Mississippi Schools by National Merit Semifinalists

The following schools had three or more Semifinalists in the class of 2022 competition:

  1. Madison Central High School – 21 / 6% of the senior class
  2. Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science – 13 / 13%
  3. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School – 10 / 17%
  4. Lewisburg High School – 9
  5. Jackson Preparatory School – 8
  6. Biloxi High School – 5
  7. Northwest Rankin High School – 5
  8. Oak Grove High School – 5
  9. Olive Branch High School – 5
  10. Clinton High School – 4
  11. Germantown High School – 4
  12. Center Hill High School – 3
  13. Gulfport High School – 3
  14. Hernando High School – 3
  15. Jackson Academy – 3
  16. Ocean Springs High School – 3
  17. Oxford High School – 3

With relatively few hard numbers by which to compare schools, parents and students may be tempted to use the number of National Merit Semifinalists to make a judgment about a school’s quality. However, while these data points can be useful in describing the profile of a single class, it’s difficult to verifiably say that there is a direct causal relationship between these achievements and the overall quality of a school’s education.

Many academically talented students are likely to score in the top 1% on the PSAT regardless of what school they attend. In Mississippi’s Class of 2022, two of the semifinalists were even homeschooled. Instead, what these numbers best indicate is which schools seem to have attracted a quorum of academically elite students.

To best assess a school’s academic quality, parents and students should look at a number of factors, including their National Merit Semifinalists and their test scores. 

Visit Piqosity’s in-depth analysis of Mississippi high schools’ ACT scores.

Top 10 College Majors for Mississippi’s National Merit Semifinalists

A plurality of Mississippi’s top students are hoping to pursue careers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), with 23% of Semifinalists planning to major in some form of engineering in particular.

Of the sciences, Biology and related fields are the most popular, with 9% of students indicating an intended major in Biosciences. Health Professions are also popular, with 11% of students following courses of study such as Premedical Studies.

The humanities, in contrast, are clearly not favored: 4% of Semifinalists plan to pursue a major in the Social Sciences—politics and psychology. Only 2% of students plan to major in the humanities—literature, history, or philosophy/religious studies, and only 1% of students plan to major in the arts—drama and film.

Only two students declared a plan to major in Education. Interestingly, not a single student indicated “Pre-Law” as their intended major.

However, 33% of semifinalists were either undecided or did not declare an intention. It’s possible that some of these students will turn out to be brilliant performing artists, businesspeople, or lawyers!

A student’s intended major is designated by the three-digit code in front of their name.

How to Improve your SAT and PSAT Scores

Strong performance in your core academic classes is the single biggest indicator of success on college admissions tests like the SAT and ACT. In other words, the best way to improve your SAT and PSAT scores is to focus on your grades in school. 

The next best way to improve your SAT and PSAT scores is to take multiple practice tests. Doing so allows you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, make improvements, and grow more comfortable with the exam format and structure.

Piqosity, a leader in test prep for the ISEE, ACT, and SAT, offers up to 10 full-length practice tests for the SAT. In addition to these practice tests, our platform includes: 

  • A Mini Diagnostic Test to help you establish your current level
  • 60+ content lessons, including video tutorials 
  • Adaptive, personalized practice sets that adjust to your strengths and weaknesses
  • Real-time score prediction based your progress  
  • Answer explanations for all test questions 
  • An adaptable timer to simulate real testing experience or help you keep track of your speed
  • Online whiteboard and printable PDFs options

Sign-up is free and individual plans are competitively priced. If you’re an educator or tutor, you can also take advantage of Piqosity’s free LMS and group pricing (including free plans for  eligible public schools.)   

Names of 2021-2022 Mississippi Semifinalists by High School

Congratulations to this year’s high scorers!

How to Read This Sortable Table

  • The default sort is alphabetically by city and high school; to change the sorting order, click on the header by which you want to sort.
  • “College Major” indicates a student’s declared preference on the PSAT. A mark of “Undecided” means the student declared their lack of preference; an “Undeclared” means the student did not respond to the question.
wdt_ID City School Student (Last, First) College Major
1 Amory Amory High School McComb, William D. Biochemistry
2 Bay St. Louis St. Stanislaus College DiMento, John K. Undeclared
3 Belden Tupelo Christian Prep School Taylor, Anne B. Undecided
4 Biloxi Biloxi High School Boudreaux, Ashton R. Undeclared
5 Biloxi Biloxi High School Foster, Priscilla M. Undeclared
6 Biloxi Biloxi High School Lyman, Rachel A. Secondary Education & Teaching
7 Biloxi Biloxi High School Piore, Madeline G. Biochemistry
8 Biloxi Biloxi High School Schmidt, Ann L. Neuroscience
9 Biloxi St. Patrick Catholic High School Thrilffey, Jameson Undeclared
10 Brandon Brandon High School Adams, Aidan R. Chemical Engineering
11 Brandon Brandon High School Warfel, Miles C. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
12 Brandon Pisgah High School Holeman, Torry R. Electrical and Electronics Engineering
13 Brookhaven Brookhaven High School Becker, Dylan M. Undeclared
14 Carriere Pearl River Central High School McManus, Ramsey M. Architecture
15 Cleveland Cleveland Central High School Swartzlager, Glenn C. Computer Engineering, General
16 Clinton Clinton High School Cheruku, Abhany Undeclared
17 Clinton Clinton High School Coleman, Gertharrynn L. Undeclared
18 Clinton Clinton High School Miller, Jarred E. Engineering
19 Clinton Clinton High School Varghease, Abigail B. Veterinarian
20 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Djadjos, Nicholas Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
21 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Eaton, Elena Undeclared
22 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Guy, Nathan M. Chemist
23 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Jenkins, Caleb N. Communication and Media Studies
24 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Kabir, Raeed A. Neuroscience
25 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Ningthou, Lyem Undeclared
26 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Rials, Kabelyn M. Undeclared
27 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Snodgrass, Jillian B. Undecided
28 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Vanga, Viseel Psychology
29 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Yan, Jessica Undeclared
30 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Yu, Andrew C. Undeclared
31 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Zhang, Amy Q. Undeclared
32 Columbus Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science Zhou, Amanda M. Computer Engineering Technologies
33 Corinth Corinth High School Davis, George N. Finance and Financial Management Services
34 Enterprise Enterprise High School DeLoach, Kylar A. Engineering
35 Flowood Northwest Rankin High School Curry, Albert B. Mathematics
36 Flowood Northwest Rankin High School Mahajan, Vaibhavi J. Undeclared
37 Flowood Northwest Rankin High School Pullen, Sadie E. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
38 Flowood Northwest Rankin High School Pullen, Sara G. Applied Mathematics
39 Flowood Northwest Rankin High School Salool, Jaromir J. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
40 Greenwood Pillow Academy Chawla, Dia Undecided
41 Greenwood Pillow Academy Winter, Christopher Philosophy and Religious Studies
42 Gulfport Gulfport High School DeDual, Holly M. Undeclared
43 Gulfport Gulfport High School Hage, Michael G. Premedicine/Premedical Studies
44 Gulfport Gulfport High School Norvell, Conner L. Computer Engineering, General
45 Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School Bail, Jonathan S. Physical Sciences
46 Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School Connell, Jace Health Professions and Related Programs
47 Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School Elasri, Hans O. Political Science and Goverment
48 Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School Sell, Andrew D. International Business
49 Hattiesburg Oak Grove High School Yang, Yujie A. Engineering
50 Hattiesburg Presbyterian Christian School Powell, Samuel T. Computer Engineering, General
51 Hattiesburg Presbyterian Christian School Robbins, Sterling B. Undeclared
52 Hattiesburg Sacred Heart High School Danfordi, Christina N. Chemist
53 Hernando Hernando High School Beloate, Philip F. Undeclared
54 Hernando Hernando High School Fulcher, John G. Undeclared
55 Hernando Hernando High School Hilliard, Kathleen A. Health Professions and Related Programs
56 Jackson Jackson Academy Arnett, Abigail G. Health Professions and Related Programs
57 Jackson Jackson Academy Cheney, Robert G. Chemical Engineering
58 Jackson Jackson Academy Guild, Sandoni S. Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services
59 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Carter, William B. Undecided
60 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Coco, Mary R. Film/Video and Photographic Arts
61 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Hawill, Thomas H. Undecided
62 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Hsiah, Hsinja Biotechnology
63 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Jordan, Jeffrey M. Undecided
64 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Miller, Landon J. Political Science and Goverment
65 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Usay, Sarah E. Undeclared
66 Jackson Jackson Preparatory School Wasson, Thomas W. Undeclared
67 Laurel West Jones High School Manos, Ian A. Chemical Engineering
68 Long Beach Long Beach High School Salesbury, Luke Mechanical Engineering
69 Madison Germantown High School Brunetz, Samuel D. Chemist
70 Madison Germantown High School Lakshminarayaman, Shneenahi Premedicine/Premedical Studies
71 Madison Germantown High School Tobias, Isaac T. Biochemistry
72 Madison Germantown High School Word, William C. Neuroscience
73 Madison Madison Central High School Adcock, Emily L. Undecided
74 Madison Madison Central High School Bosarga, Cannon K. Premedicine/Premedical Studies
75 Madison Madison Central High School Cavett, Duncan Accounting and Related Services
76 Madison Madison Central High School Chang, Austin Undecided
77 Madison Madison Central High School Farthing, William F. Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services
78 Madison Madison Central High School Fowler, Wesley H. Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia
79 Madison Madison Central High School Kaser, Caroline E. Civil Engineering
80 Madison Madison Central High School LeRoux, Sarah E. Premedicine/Premedical Studies
81 Madison Madison Central High School Lu, Rebecca Finance and Financial Management Services
82 Madison Madison Central High School Millian, Mariam G. Biophysics
83 Madison Madison Central High School Mozingo, Rebecca K. Engineering
84 Madison Madison Central High School Nguyen, Conner L. Engineering
85 Madison Madison Central High School Pierce, Rachel N. Undecided
86 Madison Madison Central High School Pringle, Jack G. Computer Game Programming
87 Madison Madison Central High School Shaheen, Yumnaa Social Sciences
88 Madison Madison Central High School Shurden, Sarah G. Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities
89 Madison Madison Central High School Smith, Logan P. Engineering
90 Madison Madison Central High School Sorrell, Joesph R. Finance and Financial Management Services
91 Madison Madison Central High School Stockett, Sally Health Professions and Related Programs
92 Madison Madison Central High School Stockett, Sarah E. Premedicine/Premedical Studies
93 Madison Madison Central High School Van, Calvin T. Engineering
94 Madison St. Joseph Catholic School Calvert, Avery G. Undecided
95 Meridian Lamar School Dunigan, Austin L. Premedicine/Premedical Studies
96 Monticello Homeschool Magee, Hannah N. Prephysical Therapy Studies
97 Morton Homeschool Oakley, Wynn B. Chemist
98 Ocean Springs Ocean Springs High School Brune, Margaret A. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
99 Ocean Springs Ocean Springs High School Driggers, William B. Political Science and Goverment
100 Ocean Springs Ocean Springs High School Lesley, Laura A. Neuroscience
101 Olive Branch Center Hill High School Heath, Brody B. Undeclared
102 Olive Branch Center Hill High School Melicks, Laurie K. Undeclared
103 Olive Branch Center Hill High School Novesad, Chloe Undecided
104 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Arguin, Andrew C. Engineering
105 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Brown, Tyler O. Engineering
106 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Greganti, Joshua A. Biology/Biological Sciences, General
107 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Littleton, Riley M. Communication and Media Studies
108 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Love, Isabella M. Psychology
109 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Taylor, Aaron R. Undecided
110 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Truett, Charles D. Education
111 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Ware, Owen W. Journalism
112 Olive Branch Lewisburg High School Wood, Anna K. Nursing
113 Olive Branch Olive Branch High School Ford, William J. Biological and Biomedical Sciences
114 Olive Branch Olive Branch High School Haggard, Ethan Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services
115 Olive Branch Olive Branch High School Mendez, Jonathan G. Biophysics
116 Olive Branch Olive Branch High School Parr, Abby L. Undecided
117 Olive Branch Olive Branch High School Taylor, Gavin C. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
118 Oxford Oxford High School Stevens, Heath M. Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
119 Oxford Oxford High School Walker, Glenn H. Undecided
120 Oxford Oxford High School Wilson, Elliott L. Undecided
121 Pass Christian Pass Christian High School Bond, Carter J. Undeclared
122 Petal Petal High School Taylor, Weston A. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
123 Picayune Picayune Memorial High School Liban, Asha G. Engineering
124 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Anand Advikaa A. English Language and Literature/Letters
125 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Hardy, Keifer J. Undeclared
126 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Huang, Raymond Premedicine/Premedical Studies
127 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Kees, Mary E. History
128 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School McGrath, Jacob C. Undeclared
129 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Miller, Richard C. Aerospace, Aeronautical, and Space Engineering
130 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Oluwatade, Oluwadamiloju D. Neuroscience
131 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Packer, Lea D. Undecided
132 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Purvis, Catherine B. Drama and Theatre Arts
133 Ridgeland St. Andrew's Episcopal School Qu, Stanley Y. Undecided
134 Southaven De Soto Central High School Hardin, Spencer L. Engineering
135 Southaven De Soto Central High School Landon, Abigail K. Preocupational Theraphy Studies
136 Southaven Northpoint Christian School Chambliss, Karis R. Undecided
137 Starkville Starkville Academy Highfield, Tyler M. Mechanical Engineering
138 Starkville Starkville High School Dunne, Chistian T. Undeclared
139 Starkville Starkville High School Snell, Robert C. Undeclared
140 Tupelo Tupelo High School Milev, Nicol T. Undeclared
141 Tupelo Tupelo High School Waterer, Montgomery F. Engineering
City School Student (Last, First) College Major

Why is Piqosity writing an article about Mississippi?

Shelby Joe, Piqosity’s founder, was born and raised in Mississippi and was himself a National Merit Semifinalist.

This article was last updated on September 22, 2021.