Jessica Hogue recently learned that a couple of hours spent studying and reviewing class notes pay off.
Hogue, a Moffat County High School senior, took the Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test last year as a junior. She landed the highest score that Paula Duzik has seen in her six years as a counselor at the high school.
Her critical reading, math and writing skills test scores added up to 204, or the equivalent of a 31 on the American College Testing assessment, which all high school students are required to take.
That's five points below the highest possible ACT score and 10 points above the average composite score.
It's also the score she landed on the ACT last year.
Duzik said the PSAT is an accurate reflection of how students will score on the SAT, which some colleges use to determine admissions.
With her PSAT and ACT scores, Hogue said she feels confident that she'll be able to get into most any college she wants.
But then, getting admitted isn't her primary concern.
"I'm guess I'm not really worried about getting admitted but still, getting those scholarships is so competitive," she said. "I'm smart, but am I that smart?"
One national organization seems to think so.
Hogue's PSAT score also made her eligible for a scholarship offered by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. The program awards about 8,200 scholarships annually to students who test well on the PSAT.
Hogue was one of about 34,000 PSAT test takers in the U.S. who reached Commended Student status in the Scholarship Program.
"Commended Students are being recognized for the exceptional academic promise demonstrated by their outstanding performance" on the PSAT, according to a letter sent to MCHS from the Scholarship Corporation. "They will not, however, continue in the competition for National Merit Scholarships to be offered next spring."
This year's juniors will have a chance to become eligible for the scholarship. The PSAT is scheduled to take place from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 15 at the high school, 900 Finley Lane. The test costs $13, and high-scoring students will compete for the National Merit Scholarship.
Although Hogue didn't win a scholarship, she did make a piece of MCHS history. She is the first student in eight years to be eligible for the award.
Hogue also may have earned some experience from the PSAT that could prove useful when she takes the SAT this year.
"I just think the more time that they have to practice, the better off they'll be when they take the SAT or the ACT," Duzik said.
Because Hogue was one of two students to be eligible for a Boettcher Foundation scholarship, she has another chance at collecting more funds for college.
Hogue doesn't know which institution she wants to attend, but she thinks she'll be majoring in pre-med, biology or some other science-related field. She's taking classes at Colorado Northwestern Community College, both through the high school's dual enrollment program and on her own time. She plans to have earned an associate's degree before she graduates from high school.
And, while she's waiting for commencement, she has decided she'll give the ACT another shot.
"I don't expect too much, I guess," she said. "Now that I've taken it and I kind of know (what's on the test), I was thinking I could up it a few points."
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org