Two District 833 seniors have got their ACT together. 

East Ridge High School senior Nikhil Gupta and Woodbury High School senior Michelle Mao each earned a top composite score of 36 on a recent American College Testing (ACT) test.

One-tenth of one percent of test takers achieve a perfect score on average, according to the official ACT website.

“Obviously I was surprised because you never expect to get that score,” Gupta said. “It was a good feeling.” 

“I was just happy to be done with testing,” Mao said, “so I was really surprised.” 

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the ACT’s optional writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

Taking the test 

Both Gupta and Mao, who live in Woodbury, took the ACT on April 28 as part of the new state mandated testing. 

A new graduation requirement for 2015 is that all high school juniors must take the ACT test during school. 

The requirement is meant to increase free, in-school access to a test that’s widely required as part of college applications.

Gupta and Mao said they went into the April 28 test feeling rather confident since both seniors had already previously taken the ACT of their own accord. 

Gupta received a score of 32 on his first ACT whereas Mao received a 34. 

During the first go-around, Mao and Gupta said they relied primarily on practice tests to help prepare them, rather than straight studying. 

“It’s mainly learning how the test works,” Gupta said, “because it’s not exactly what you learn in school. 

“I think the second time around I found it easier. I had already gone through the whole process.” 

“I actually didn’t think it wasn’t all that hard,” Mao said. 

Also, the pressure of the ACT was also alleviated the second time around since both Gupta and Mao had already earned high scores. 

“I felt pretty good about my score already, so I just went in and took it,” Gupta said, “and it ended up being a really good score, I guess.”

Looking to the future 

In school, Gupta and Mao said they both enjoy their science courses. 

“You get to know more about the world,” Mao said. “You’re always finding out something new.” 

Gupta agrees. 

“I enjoy knowledge and how the world works,” he said, “and being able to apply that to help fix problems.” 

Gupta and Mao are both undecided about their plans for next year, specifically what schools to attend.

Mao is also undecided on what she wants to study. 

Gupta on the other hand is leaning towards engineering. 

Now that Gupta and Mao have the ACT behind them, they are excited to just focus on senior year and what lies ahead. 

“It should be an easier year,” Gupta said. 

For those juniors who are planning for the ACT, Mao suggests getting started now. 

“Start studying early,” she said, “and definitely get a study book.”