Mr. Perfect

For NASH senior Owen Prem, acing the SAT was not enough. He had to do the same on the ACT.

Quinn Volpe, Co-Editor-in-Chief

How did you feel when you found out about your perfect scores on the SAT and ACT?

I was elated. I remember finding out about the SAT score, which came first, at home. I woke up around 7 AM for school on a Monday remote day last September. I immediately went to check my College Board account, since I knew the scores came out early. When I saw my scores, I was relieved and excited.

When did you start studying for these tests?

I began studying for the tests during the summer between my sophomore and junior year (2020). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn’t have much else to do with my time.

What section of the SAT and ACT came easiest to you? Which part was the most difficult?

The Writing & Language (SAT)/English (ACT) sections came easiest to me. Grammar has always been one of my strengths, and I am easily able to spot what part of a sentence/paragraph doesn’t look right and needs to be changed.

The Reading section came the hardest to me. Reading is more abstract, subjective, and idea-based. To improve, I practiced interpreting passages to align with the test writers’ point of view. There are a surprising amount of similarities in how the writers create questions about different texts, and patterns emerged over time.

What motivates you the most to do well on these tests?

Getting into a good college. I have high goals for college, and wanted a good score to bolster my application. I’m glad I was able to do so.

Did any of your teachers help you prepare for the tests? 

Since most of my studying was over the summer, I didn’t really use much help from my teachers. However, my Honors PreCalculus teacher Mrs. Trice and my AP Calculus BC teacher Mrs. Volpe provided standardized testing math practice questions that were useful for becoming familiar with the style of test questions.

What is your advice for people who hope to get similar scores on standardized tests?

Practice like you play. My studying was entirely from official practice tests published by the SAT (free on Khan Academy) and the ACT (practice book). The more practice tests you do, the more comfortable you become with test questions and procedures. When taking these tests, I recommend at least sometimes timing yourself and adhering to timed test breaks, so test day isn’t a surprise.

How much of your time is spent studying and preparing for tests?

I didn’t spend too much time preparing for the tests. I ended up taking 10 SAT practice tests and 7 ACT practice tests at about 3 hours each. I think it’s important to study more during the summer and less during the school year, so the test preparation isn’t hard to fit into your schedule.

What is your favorite subject in school and why?

I enjoy computer science, which is my plan for a major in college. It’s math-intensive, which I enjoy, and the use of logic and problem-solving makes every challenge interesting.

What extracurricular activities do you participate in?

I participate in FIRST Tech Challenge robotics, the NA Tiger Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble, National History Bowl, Hometown High Q, Speech and Debate, and National Honor Society. I also work as an instructor at MySTEM Academy.

Do you do anything for luck leading up to a test?

Get a good night’s sleep! My mind works much better when I’m not running on less than six hours of sleep.

What’s your go-to breakfast for the day of a test?

Something with protein. It’s brain food!