Portage High School student named Merit semifinalist

September 13, 2018

Perfect test scores have their perks.

Portage High School senior Emma Goldthorpe is a semifinalist for the National Merit Scholarship Program after achieving perfection on the 2017 Preliminary SAT test.

She’s among 16,000 semifinalists from across the nation competing for 7,500 scholarships worth more than $31 million combined, the National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced Wednesday. Goldthorpe and 1.6 million other high school juniors were eligible for the Merit program when they took the PSAT, for which Goldthorpe scored 1520 out of a possible 1520.

Goldthorpe as a junior also earned a perfect composite score of 36 on her ACT test, becoming only the second student in the school’s history to do so.

Merit winners will be announced in the spring and summer of 2019.

“It’s exciting because I know it will help me when I’m applying to colleges,” said Goldthorpe, whose favorite subject is science. Her extracurricular activities this year include cross country and Future Business Leaders of America, for which she’s the Portage chapter’s treasurer.

Her classes this semester include Advanced Placement Biology, Advanced Placement Composition, Spanish, Finite Math (a dual-credit course through University of Wisconsin-Whitewater), Principles of Engineering and Art 3D.

More than 90 percent of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists are expected to attain finalist status and then about half of the finalists will win scholarships, earning the Merit Scholar title, the organization said in a news release. To become a finalist, Goldthorpe must write an essay and she and her school need to submit an application detailing her academic record, participation in school and community activities, awards and more.

Goldthorpe took her SAT test in May, scoring 1560 out of a possible 1,600.

“She is an outstanding and creative student,” Principal Robin Kvalo said in an email. “From the arts to the academics — she has it all, and she is a kind, humble and caring student.”

“There is no doubt she is going to do amazing things beyond high school,” Kvalo said. “I’m very proud to be her principal.”

Portage High School Class of 2015 graduate Emily Kibby scored a perfect ACT in 2014. Only 32 Wisconsin students from the graduating class of 2017 earned a perfect score on the ACT, according to the most current data available. About 67,000 students from that class took the test, which means only 1 in about 2,100 students earned top scores.

Goldthorpe is currently undecided on her career path and college, but she’s almost certain she’ll pursue a career in science. Achieving high scores in testing is all about “learning things as you’re going along,” she added, “because there’s really no way to cram everything the night before.”

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