Class ACTs

Amanda Lu, Opinions Editor

Last Friday, I sat down with Will Cheong and Luke Turkovich, both seniors at North Allegheny who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. The ACT is one of the two most commonly taken standardized tests in the U.S. Needless to say, it is extremely difficult to earn a perfect score: annually, less than 1% of test takers achieve a 36. 


Did you study?

Will: Yeah, I studied a lot. Two weeks before the actual exam, I took a practice exam every day.

Luke: My preparation was just taking the ACT over and over. Outside of that, I did not study.

How many times did you take the ACT?

Will: Twice.

Luke: Three times.

When did you find out you got a perfect on the ACT?

Will: I found out around 2 AM in August.

Luke: I found out in June.

What was your reaction?

Will: My goal was a 35, but I was expecting anywhere from 34-35, so seeing a 36 was very surprising to me. I was very excited, but because I found out at 2 AM, I tried to be super low-key about it so I wouldn’t wake up my parents.

Luke: I found out in the morning before I left for Cross-Country practice. I was very surprised because I had gotten a 34 before and believed that that was the highest of my ability. I was stunned by my 36, and as soon as I saw it, I ran down the stairs and almost crashed my head into the floor below my stairs. I was excited to tell my parents. It was just a very ecstatic moment.

What’s harder: ACT or SAT?

Will: I only took the SAT once. I think the SAT is harder. With the ACT, the questions are more straightforward. The biggest issue is timing, so if you just have a bit of practice you can get used to it. For me, the SAT reading section is difficult to improve on.

Luke: I took the SAT twice. The SAT is definitely harder judging by the questions alone, but the difficulty to actually get through to answer all the questions is significantly harder on the ACT. If you can move quickly, the ACT will be easier for you. If you are not fast, the SAT is probably easier for you because you’ll at least be able to get through all the questions.

What was your test-taking strategy?

Will: I don’t have a particular strategy. I just start from the beginning, and I try to get through the questions as fast as possible without making simple mistakes.

Luke: For the ACT, since there are four different parts, I kind of developed a strategy for each, but the big thing that carried through is that you have to forget about what you did on the last section. Even if you did not have enough time to finish or had to guess on a few questions, there is no time to worry about that. You just have to start the test knowing that you have to finish quickly. As far as specific strategies go, I don’t read anything on the Science Test, because you can get most of the information from the graphs. It’s a waste of time to try to read the paragraphs.

What was the hardest section?

Will: The reading section was the hardest section for me.

Luke: I also thought the reading section was hardest because of the time constraints. The first time I took the ACT, I did poorly on the Science Test, but I was able to develop a strategy for it.