When Helix Charter High School senior Spencer McCall took the ACT college readiness assessment test last fall, he was hoping for a good score, but a perfect score of 36 was not something he expected.
“I had never heard of anyone who had actually gotten one of those,” McCall said. “It seems like one of those things that doesn’t actually happen.”
Not only did it happen — he did it.
Fewer than one tenth of one percent of students taking the ACT exam receive a composite score of 36, which is an average of the student’s score on each of the exam’s four sections: English, mathematics, reading and science. Among the 1.85 million students across the country who took the test and planned to graduate high school in 2014, only 1,407 earned a composite score of 36.
“While test scores are just one of the many criteria that most colleges consider when making admissions decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals,” wrote ACT CEO Jon Whitmore in a letter to McCall.
McCall is currently waiting to hear back from the many liberal arts colleges and research universities he has applied to over the past several months. He wants to study physics and political science.
His advice to others who plan to take the exam?
“The ACT is all about time management,” McCall said. “None of the questions are horribly difficult, it’s just — can you process all the questions in the time provided?”
Managing time on the math questions can be particularly tricky.
“The biggest concern my friends have had with the ACT has been the inability to finish the math section,” McCall said.
Students preparing for the ACT should take at least one practice test and try out different test-taking methods to discover the best strategy to finishing on time.