Two Johnson County high school students have accomplished what few others before them have done. Olathe East High School senior Selina Liu and Blue Valley Northwest High School senior Suruchi Ramanujan have each earned a perfect score on both the ACT and SAT college entrance exams.
The ACT tests English, reading, math and science, while the SAT is made up of tests in the areas of critical reading, writing and math. Both Selina and Suruchi took the optional essay portion on the ACT. An essay section is standard on the SAT.
It’s estimated that less than one-tenth of 1 percent of high school students score a perfect 36 on the ACT. And out of the more than 1.6 million students who took the SAT last year, fewer than 600 earned a perfect score of 2400.
The rare achievement of earning a perfect score on both tests has come as a surprise to many people, including Liu and Ramanujan.
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“To get both of them makes me happy and grateful,” Liu said.
“I really can’t believe it,” Ramanujan said. “I’m just glad I don’t have to take the tests again.”
For Liu of Olathe East High School, the first time was the charm when it came to taking the ACT. She took the test as a sophomore and earned a perfect score on her first and only try. Her mom encouraged her to take the ACT early so she could get a head start on college entrance exam testing. She never dreamed she would do so well on the first attempt.
“When I found out, it was a pleasant surprise and not what I was expecting,” Liu said. “It felt good to have the test done before my junior year. It helped take the pressure off my shoulders.”
With a perfect ACT score already secured, Liu soon set her sights on conquering the SAT. She took the test last March during her junior year.
Not content with her initial score, Liu decided to take the test a second time this past fall. She spent about two to three hours a week studying and taking practice tests in the month leading up to the test. This time she scored a perfect 2400. She said she’s glad she didn’t give up after the first try.
“A lot of it is just part of my personality,” Liu said. “I like to push myself to see how far I can go.”
For years, Liu has been pushing herself to achieve her very best. She carries a full load of AP classes and boasts an impressive 4.95 GPA. Liu is also ranked first in her senior class.
Liu is still weighing her options for college next year. She’s considering several prestigious schools including University of Southern California, Vanderbilt and Duke. She plans on majoring in mathematics and economics.
Ramanujan took both the SAT and ACT twice. After the first time, she took note of the areas where she didn’t score as high and took steps to fix that.
She narrowly missed a perfect ACT score on her first try.
“When I took it the first time I got a 35.25 which rounded down to a 35, and if I had gotten a 35.5 it would have rounded up to a 36,” Ramanujan said. “So I was extremely determined to do better.”
Determination and hard work have been the driving forces behind Ramanujan’s success. She ended up taking the ACT and SAT within a week of each other last June. Once school let out for summer vacation, Ramanujan dedicated four to five hours a day studying and taking practice tests.
“I put a lot of preparation into the SAT,” Ramanujan said. “With the ACT, I didn’t do as much.”
Still, she studied vocabulary and took practice tests for the SAT and focused more on reading and science as she studied for her second ACT.
“For me, the toughest section has always been critical reading. I had to sit down, and I couldn’t think about something else while taking the critical reading part,” she said.
She said that the process she went through of preparing for the tests will continue to help her as she moves on to other things.
“I don’t expect immediate results (from studying). It’s a life lesson I can apply to the future,” Ramanujan said.
Ramanujan is no stranger to hard work. At Blue Valley Northwest High School she maintains a 4.8 GPA earned through a full schedule of AP classes and is currently ranked first in her class. She’s still deciding where she will attend college next year, but has already received acceptance to Harvard University and the University of Kansas Honors Program. She’s planning on majoring in biochemistry in college.
She heard about her perfect SAT back in June, when she checked her score online.
“That was an ‘Are you serious?’ moment,” Ramanujan said.
The only problem was that everyone else in her house was sleeping — it was 6 a.m. She waited until they woke up to tell them.
Sara Beane: email@example.com.