Three Douglas County seniors ace ACT

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Three Douglas County seniors scored a perfect 36 on their ACTs. The national college admissions test typically is taken in April, during a student’s junior year.

Fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of those who take the national college admissions exam gets a perfect score; the average is just over 21. The exam, which includes 215 multiple-choice questions, tests students’ knowledge in reading, math, science and English.

“I was definitely surprised,” said Mountain Vista High School senior Julie Newman. “I had hoped I would do well on the ACT, but I was definitely not expecting a perfect score.”

Newman can’t say for sure what led to her 36, but speculated, “I took a lot of challenging classes, which probably helped.”

Newman is applying to several colleges.

“I’m looking at mostly pretty selective schools but have no certainty I’m getting into any of them,” she said, adding her major is undecided. “I’ve had some thoughts about doing math or chemistry, but I’m also really interested in history and international relations, and a lot of other things.”

Douglas County High School senior Shawn Ong is aiming for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and knew a high ACT score would significantly improve his chances of gaining admission.

“They have to weed out even the top students,” he said. “It’s a one-in-12 acceptance rate. So it’s tough, even if you have perfect ACT scores.”

Ong, who wants to work in the field of applied mathematics, said he found some ACT study books at the library and worked through “a lot of practice books” before taking the test.

“I was trying to go for perfect,” he said.

Rock Canyon High School senior Ben King said news of his perfect score was a happy surprise.

“It’s not like I’m a 4.6 GPA, all AP-class sort of guy,” he said. “I’ve always been pretty good at school, so it wasn’t totally out of the blue. But 36 is kind of unexpected for anyone.”

Like Newman, King is looking at a variety of colleges, including Stanford, University of Colorado-Boulder and the Colorado School of Mines. He plans to major in civil engineering.

King advised future ACT test takers to do some practice tests.

“Other than that, get a good night’s sleep,” he said, “and eat a big breakfast.”

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