Eden Prairie High School junior Mike Leiter got a big surprise last month.
He found out that he is one of the small percentage of students who received a perfect composite score of 36 on his ACT test.
The ACT is made up of tests in English, math, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with the student’s composite score being the average of the four scores. Students can also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is not included in the ACT composite score and is reported separately.
“On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36,” a news release said.
Leiter learned of the results on Nov. 8 after taking the test on Oct. 22 for a second time. He took the test for the first time in June 2015, scoring a 33.
“I felt really excited about getting a 36,” he said. “I think I’m most happy about not needing to take the test again.”
Leiter is involved with several activities including playing violin in the school’s concert orchestra; being a tutor for TRACE (Tutor Run Academic Center for Excellence); EPHS Math Team captain; member of the EPHS Quiz Bowl Team, Partners in Health, Science Olympiad, EPHS Chess Team and Science Bowl. He also plays varsity tennis.
Leiter responded by email to the following questions from the newspaper about his perfect ACT score:
Q: What questions or sections stood out to you on the test?
A: On the reading section there was one passage about Leonardo Da Vinci and painting that I thought was interesting.
Q: What was the hardest part of the test for you?
A: I suppose that the hardest part for me is reading, I made a lot of silly mistakes on that section in practice, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I did well on it.
Q: How long did it take you to finish the test?
A: I used all of my time for either test-taking or double checking, and I feel it would be silly to not use every second one is given.
Q: What kind of test-prep/test-taking rituals do you have?
A: I like to get out one pencil for every test section before the test begins. For test prep, I studied the most for the reading section, and have been lucky to have had a lot of great teachers that have prepared me for the test in the Eden Prairie School District.
Q: What advice would you offer others who are preparing to take the ACT?
A: My advice would be to use all of the free practice material online, and make sure that if you get a question wrong, to find out exactly where or what you messed up. Also, I would suggest having strategies before going into the test, there are a lot of test-taking strategies, and all can be effective. I believe that is most important to simply know what the game plan is before entering the testing room. Finally, use all of your time on all of the sections.
Q: How do you believe getting this perfect score will affect your future plans?
A: The ACT will only be one part of my application, and while I hope it will help me get scholarships or get into a top school, I don’t think I can bank on just this one score.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I want to go to college right after graduating, and I’m looking at a variety of schools that I’d like to attend. Right now I would like to work in a math-related field, and am looking specifically at actuarial science and biomedical engineering.