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Illinois student earns perfect ACT score of 36

Althoff Catholic High School

A.J. DiGiovanni, a 17-year-old high school student from Belleville, Illinois, earned a perfect score of 36 on the ACT test, according to an NBC News report on Monday. DiGiovanni attends Althoff Catholic High School. Of his top score on the exam, the student says it was definitely a surprise. He said that he has been able to do reasonably well on standardized tests, but he was not expecting a perfect score.

As far as preparing for the test, DiGiovanni said he took online practice tests. In particular, he aimed to practice the tests on reading and science. The teenager said that the practice tests were much more difficult than the actual ACT test.

DiGiovanni took the test at Althoff Catholic High School this past spring. The community, says DiGiovanni, has been amazingly supportive after having found out that he scored a perfect score on the ACT. He said he thought other students might be jealous of his accomplishment, but that was not other students’ reactions. He says that no one acted jealous or negatively at all, including friends and teachers. People who he hardly ever talks to have been very congratulatory.

Quite incredibly, less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the exam garner a perfect score. Specifically, of the high school graduating class of 2013, only 1,162 test-takers out of 1.8 million students earned a 36 as their composite score on the ACT.

The exam has four sections. It contains tests in reading, science, English and mathematics. Each of the four tests is graded on a 1-to-36 scale. A test-taking student’s composite score is the average of the four tests’ scores. Students may also take an optional ACT writing test. That test is scored separately from the other four and is not included within the ACT’s composite score. DiGiovanni said he took the writing section of the test. Of the test, he said that he is thankful that the writing test didn’t factor into the composite score, and admits that the most challenging component of the writing test was time management.

As for the top-scoring student, he is not studying this summer. Instead, he is tutoring by helping young people with their math skills. He works part-time at the Mathnasium in O’Fallon, Illinois. Of the working experience, he says that it gives him an opportunity not only to apply knowledge in math but allows him to learn how to approach the subject from the perspective of the children he is teaching. He has one more year of high school to go.

In his senior year, he will be on the math team, in the science club, a member of the National Honor Society, and the varsity captain of the school’s scholar bowl team, according to’s news site. As one would assume, he plans on going to college one day and to enter the field of math or science in the future. He has been quoted as saying that he is leaning more and more toward some combination of academic research into biological sciences, neuroscience, and possibly biomedical engineering.

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