Before anything, Alexander Graham Bell once said, preparation is the key to success. It took more than 120 hours of preparation time for Corner Canyon High Aaron Jackson, but the hard work certainly has paid off.
The junior recently received word he earned a perfect 36 composite score on the ACT, the most commonly accepted U.S. college entrance exam.
This summer, as other students lounged by the pool or went boating at the lake, Jackson pulled out his books to bone up for his maiden attempt at the exam. He estimates he studied three hours a day for the English, math, reading and science sections of the rigorous test. “I wouldn’t say that I was 100 percent expecting” a perfect score, Jackson says, “but I was hoping. It was my goal.”
His father woke him up at about 5 a.m. on the day the scores were released so the they could check the results. “We had to reload the page a few times to make sure I was seeing it right,” he said. His parents were ecstatic. He kept his enthusiasm checked so he didn’t wake his siblings.
Since the news spread in the community, his cross-country team has given him high-fives, fellow students offered their congratulations and, he says, his parents have been a little more lenient on time spent hanging out with his buddies. He doesn’t plan to take the test again “I mean, I can’t get any higher,” he says but he’s put into place a solid academic pathway that may lead him to one of the colleges of his choice.
This year alone, for example, he’s enrolled in five Advanced Placement courses. “I like learning,” he says. “I take the classes because they are enjoyable to me.”
The schools on his short list: Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Now that he has earned a sterling score, he’s sharpening up his college application.
On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all test-takers earns the top score. In the class of 2016 that took the test, only 2,235 of the 2.1 million who sat the exam earned a composite score of 36. The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of one to 36.
A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score. ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.