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High school student gets top scores on ACT Exam

April 16, 2018 GMT

HYANNIS, Mass. (AP) — St. John Paul II High School junior John Greer has achieved that rarest of distinctions on the ACT test — the highest possible composite score of 36.

While not every college-bound student can ace the test — only one out of every thousand students who take the ACT earn a top score — Greer said he is happy to share test-taking tips as testing season gets underway in earnest this spring.

To put Greer’s achievement in perspective, out of more than two million U.S. high school students in the class of 2017 who took the ACT, only 2,760 managed to get the highest possible score.


“A 36 composite score is quite rare,” said Edward Colby, senior director of media and public relations for the ACT. “It is truly an outstanding rare academic achievement.”

Within the past five years, only one other student in Barnstable County earned a composite score of 36, and that was a 2015 graduate of Falmouth Academy, Colby said.

Greer, a 16-year-old from East Sandwich, said he studied the websites and blogs of other top scorers to get tips for success but was still surprised when he ended up with the highest possible score.

“I was definitely caught off guard by the 36,” Greer said.

He took the test Feb. 10, the first possible date in 2018, in order to be able to improve his score next time around if the results weren’t great, Greer said.

But by the time he finished the English portion of the test at Bridgewater State University, Greer said he felt he had a crack at the top score.

“I struggled a bit in the beginning and then got into the rhythm,” Greer said.

The ACT tests students in English, math, reading and science, with each section scored on a scale of 1-36.

The composite score comes from averaging out the four test scores and does not include the score for the optional writing test.

Many colleges require students take the ACT as well as SAT to be considered applicants for admission.

Greer, who regularly takes Advanced Placement classes, said he figured he already knew the subject matter on the curriculum-based ACT test, so he spent more time studying test-taking techniques.

The ACT is all multiple choice and students have less than a minute to answer each question, Greer said.

“Slow down. Always read (the question) twice. You’ve learned the material. There is a clear answer. It’s all about finding it,” Greer said of his tips.


“I was just able to relax and focus and go one question at a time,” he said, also recommending spending extra time preparing for the science section of the exam.

Students can take a free practice test on the ACT website, Colby said.

“Students who have been taking challenging courses and working hard in them have actually been engaged in the very best kind of test preparation,” Colby said in an email.

Greer, who is on St. John Paul II golf and math teams, said he currently is taking three AP courses, including courses in history and English language.

With a goal of studying economics and business in college, Greer said he favors nonfiction reading, such as books by management expert Jack Welch and books about science.

His grandfather got him the “The Art of the Deal,” written in 1987 by Tony Schwartz and now-President Donald Trump, for Christmas, Greer said.

Christopher W. Keavy, head of St. John Paul II High School and St. Francis Xavier Preparatory School in Hyannis, called Greer a “true student athlete” as well as a “thoughtful and insightful” person.

“I’m proud to see him represent us,” Keavy said.

Greer, who said he has a few B’s sprinkled in among his A grades, got high — although not perfect — scores on the PSAT.

Unlike many other students, Greer said he enjoys the format, time constraints and even tricky questions on standardized exams and is not dreading the SATs in May.

The only exam he didn’t like was the MCAS in elementary school. Greer recalled getting a nose bleed right after finishing an MCAS exam in fourth grade.

“That’s a bit too intense,” he said.


Online: https://bit.ly/2veJgxK


Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com