How much does placing at ISEF help you in the admissions process? I've been a finalist since 9th grade, but because we're in NM, there's not too much competition But last year I placed 2nd in Physics and Astronomy, and I'm hoping that helps me out a bit. I don't expect to get STS semi, but would that also help if I were to get it?
Also, what about research? I'm planing to submit my research report the same one submitted for STS, along with a rec letter from my mentor and an essay putting it in context of future goals and whatnot. If nothing else, will these at least make my application stand out a little?