WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - Every year, more than 2 million U.S. high school students take the ACT test.
That, along with the SAT, is key for college admissions and merit scholarships.
The standardized tests are required for most universities, and higher scores can dramatically increase students' chances of admission.
A high score wasn't a problem for four Westlake High School students.
They each scored a perfect 36.
The ACT is graded on a 1 to 36 point scale, with Ohio students averaging a 22. Fewer than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the test make a perfect score.
Ella Gray, Isabella Digiulio and Patrick Lee are three of the four students who made the 36. Ella and Isabella are juniors at Westlake High School, and Patrick is a senior.
Ella said she was surprised and excited when she checked her score, a few weeks after taking the test.
"I got it during lunch and I like jumped up and everyone at my table asked what was wrong, and I said I got a 36, and they were just like, 'Oh. okay.' Then I just went on eating lunch and didn't talk about it the rest of the day," she said.
But it's a big deal. The score gives students greater access to universities and scholarships, and it can make it possible for a student to open new pathways in higher education, including exclusive merit programs.
The students say they didn't take the test at the same time, and they studied differently. None of them hired a formal tutor, but they did practice exams on their own.
"I got the, the ACT book from the Princeton review, and I just kind of read through some of the chapters in there, and did the practice questions that are in the book," said Patrick Lee.
They each say being prepared for the format of the test, the timing of it, and the kinds of questions they'll have to answer are key for a perfect score.
How can you replicate it?
"We work really hard and we have lots of really good teachers who inspire a love of a certain subject," said Isabella Digiulio. "aI think some of it's probably a coincidence that we all happen to be here at the same time, but it's pretty crazy."