Madison West High School held a ceremony Friday honoring six recipients of perfect ACT scores from the Madison area.
The six high-scorers mark a record number of Madison area students to post a 36 on either the April or June test.
Andrei Baiu, Mark Kelly and Sammy Poppe of Madison West; Elaine Brow and Sakura Takemitsu of Madison Memorial; and Claire Lynch of Madison East were among eleven total Wisconsin students to receive a perfect score on the test.
According to Pam Nash, assistant superintendent for the Madison Metropolitan School District, the average number of students to obtain a perfect score since 1997 was only a little more than one per year. To have six students accomplish this on just two tests, she added, is a large feat.
"Having six [students] together in one year is pretty amazing," Nash explained. "If you take a look at our scores in general, you can tell how Madison's emphasis on early literacy is a cornerstone."
She also said the ACT, which used to be primarily a test for admission to universities in the Midwest, is becoming more widely recognized throughout the country and increasingly important for more students.
Though Nash argued the quality of Madison's public high schools contributed to the scores, she added natural talent, intelligence and hard work from the six students was also crucial to their success.
"Reading is important, and Madison emphasizes that," Nash said. "But the kids themselves … chose the academic route."
But Poppe, a Madison West senior surprised with the outcome of the test, attributes his perfect score to a healthy breakfast and a little practice.
"I did one of the practice tests and made sure to get a good breakfast," he said. "I think a lot of the classes I took earlier in high school helped, but I think some people are more comfortable in a testing environment."
Poppe is applying to schools in the Midwest such as Carleton College and Lawrence University to study either science, philosophy or government.
Baiu, also a senior at Madison West, said he is pleased with the results of his ACT score, especially since English is not his first language.
Even though his family moved to the United States from Romania five years ago, Baiu said learning English actually helped him achieve such an impressive score. He had to learn the language and its grammatical rules as a school subject, he added, which helped in the English portion of the test.
"[My parents] were really happy, especially since English is my second language," he noted. "Now that I have a higher ACT score, I will be able to apply to more schools and more financial aid which would otherwise not be available."
Baiu said he plans to apply to the University of Wisconsin, as well as Princeton University and Williams College.
Yet Brow of James Madison Memorial said she was confident in her performance the day of the test, even though she did not do much to prepare for the exam. Interested in studio arts, physics and math, she said she would like to apply to Stanford University.
"I knew I did pretty well, but I didn't know I did that well," Brow added. "I was pretty surprised."