Seven OPRF students earn perfect ACT scores

Lev Working, Contributor

Out of the 1.8 million students who take the ACT every year, only two tenths of a percent achieve a perfect score of 36. Among them were seven OPRF students.

OPRF’s top ACT scholars were Veronica Brooks, Garrett Credi, Evelyn Drews, Aaron Freeman, Marissa Kuriakos, Alex Yuan, and one other student who wished to remain anonymous. 

Several of those students shared their experiences studying for the test, and their prior preparation ranged from a science internship to nothing.

“I interned in a molecular biology lab at Feinburg, the medical school of Northwestern,” says Veronica Brooks. “A lot of the things I was doing needed (time) to incubate or react… In my downtime there, I would do old ACT tests section by section. I also had some tutoring at Huntington, but that was mainly to brush up on topics I didn’t understand or know.”

For others, the process was not as laborious. “I was in the middle of the rehearsal process for a play, so I didn’t have any time to study,” says Marissa Kuriakos. “My mom and I decided that it would be a more efficient use of my time to take the ACT, figure out which parts I needed to study for, and take it again, so I went into the test not knowing what to expect. Honestly, I was shocked and happy that I wouldn’t have to take it again.”

For the ACT in particular, says Brooks, it’s all about timing.

“You need to figure out your pacing,” she said. “This prevents you from getting stuck on a question or not having enough time at the end.”

When you’re studying, Brooks recommends breaking the test up in sections and focusing on your weaker sections more.  Whatever the time limit was per section, she spent another 10-15 minutes on top of that to grade and go over that section.

“I did way more math prep than I did science or English,” she says. “I would usually do one section per sitting, whether that was math, science, English, reading, writing.”

This year’s ACT contains five sections: reading, writing, math, science, and English. The test is two hours and fifty-five minutes long without the optional writing section, and three hours and thirty-five minutes with the writing section. The test is multiple choice and is scored on a scale of one to 36. Most colleges do not have a preference on whether you take the ACT or the SAT, but elite colleges prefer students with a score of at least 31 on the ACT. 

This year on the ACT,  Illinois outperformed most states, with an average score of 24.3 out of 32, and a ranking of seventh in the nation, though likely due to a low (35 percent) state participation rate. On the SAT, Illinois schools performed worse, ranking 23rd in the nation with an average score of 1,115, just 56 points above the national average.

“I definitely recommend that everyone takes the ACT at least once, because some people just do better on it than on the SAT,” says Kuriakos.