Students score perfects on standardized tests


Daphne Yu

Feature image by Daphne Yu
NewsRBHS heads into the new year recognizing two students; senior Stephen Turban and junior Jenny Yao garnered a perfect score on the ACT and SAT, respectively. Turban acquired his 36 on the 2011 December ACT and Yao clinched her 2,400 on the SAT back in November.
Though getting a perfect on the standardized tests are rare, RBHS Guidance Director Betsy Jones says it is an honor at least one RBHS student will earn during their time here every year.
“Just about every year we have a student that [gets a perfect]. I think it’s rare if we don’t,” Jones said. “I do know that [RBHS] scores higher than the national average [on the ACT] consistently. The national average is 21.8, and I think our school’s profile is a 24.7.”
While .0005891 percent of the last year’s Missouri graduating class received a 36, Turban believes his perfect score does not make him better than other students.
“There’s also a lot of research showing the difference between the top three, four percent points and it’s really nothing. [Getting a perfect] is a lot of luck, and it’s a lot of putting in time,” Turban said. “I think it shows that I cared enough to work on the ACT, but it doesn’t show that I’m particularly anything. I was really lucky … I’m not a person who just goes in and gets a perfect score.”
Yao also said she was excited to get her perfect, which she found out at 4 a.m. the morning the test dates were released, but the 2,400 doesn’t necessarily set her apart from her peers, especially for the clash of the colleges.
She’s different “in terms of statistics, yeah, but I’m pretty sure colleges take leadership skills and extracurriculars more importantly,” Yao said, “so getting a good score doesn’t really set you apart.”
Yao only took the test once, but prepared beforehand by taking practice tests and studying the vocabulary for the critical reading section early. Leading up to his second – and last – time taking the test, Turban said he also studied by figuring out what he was not good at. Because Turban views standardized tests as being “formulaic”, he was able to zone in and take time working on his weak points. In addition, Turban also took a summer school class with RBHS media center specialist and ACT Tutor Gwen Struchtemeyer to prep for the ACT.
Similar to Turban, Struchtemeyer believes no matter how much students study, getting a perfect score comes with luck.
“I feel like gunning for the perfect score, we can all aspire [to do that],” Struchtemeyer said. But “I will say that on tests I’ve taken, there have been questions where I’m like, ‘Hmm. I don’t like that answer,’ or none of them were good answers.”
Throughout her years of taking multiple tests and tutoring other students, Struchtemeyer has come across questions where she felt there was more than one correct answer. For example, in one test, she came across an answer with a non-essential parenthetical phrase, “needless to say,” and the correct answer was just the word “was.” Both said the same thing, Struchtemeyer said, but only one of them was the right answer.
If it had been a real test, “depending on the day and the time and how I was feeling in the moment, who knows, I might have gotten the wrong one. There are questions that I run into that are not fair questions,” Struchtemeyer said, which is one of the reasons why “I don’t think you can exactly study for a 36. I have had students before who have had 34s and 35s and obsessively take tests and I think that’s not healthy. It may be a waste of their times, because they are equally good scores and can take them where they want to go.”
By Daphne Yu
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