June 18, 2019
June 18, 2019—A select group of CFISD rising juniors and seniors and two recent graduates were among the notable high school students to earn the highest possible composite scores on the ACT assessment and SAT standardized tests over the last 12 months.
Cypress Creek High School rising junior Samhitha Bandi and rising senior Hasan Abbasi, Cypress Woods High School rising senior Tristan Wiesepape and Cy-Fair High School rising senior Yash Aggarwal and 2019 graduates Stephanie Pickrell and Tate Ward all earned the top composite ACT score of 36.
In addition, Cypress Woods rising senior Angela Zhong earned the highest possible score on the SAT, recording a perfect 1600.
“It definitely feels really awesome, just knowing you have access to more opportunities,” said Abbasi, who went into his ACT test day in February having already scored a 1560 on the SAT. “That feeling is really good."
Less than two-tenths of 1 percent of all ACT test takers earn the top possible score. For the SAT, of the more than 2.1 million test takers in the Class of 2018, just seven percent scored a 1400 or above.
“I knew if I didn’t get above a certain score, I’d have to retake it anyway,” Zhong said. “So this saves time.”
Many prepared in similar fashion, working through practice exams and preparatory questions and scenarios. They didn’t just focus on what they didn’t know right away, but also sections that took them longer than others. Tutoring sessions and other resources like Khan Academy, a non-profit online educational platform, helped prepare students for the test format as well as the material.
Taking both tests within a few months of each other also helped in the process, as material can be relevant to both exams even though the formats differ.
The ACT incudes five sections (English, math, reading, science and writing), with each timed separately and the total exam taking 3 hours and 35 minutes to finish. The SAT can take 3 hours and 50 minutes to finish, as it includes five sections (reading, writing, math with and without a calculator, and an optional essay).
Rising seniors took the ACT in February during the school day, becoming a benchmark for some or a desired achievement for others.
“I got ready for the SAT, which prepared me for the ACT as well,” Aggarwal said. “Khan Academy helped a lot, especially with specific questions and to make sure I had it completely down. It’s free practice, so why not?”
Added Wiesepape: “I had a study book at home and took practice tests, but I still didn’t expect to get the score I did (in February). It was the school-sponsored one and I was going to take it anyway, so I just thought that I would do my best and use it to prepare for my SAT a few months later.”
Nervousness ranged from little to plenty going into the exams. But any emotions turned into joy and relief once scores were reported.
Said Wiesepape: “I was in biology class after a test so I had to be quiet. I pulled out my phone and I was just screaming silently in the back because I wasn’t expecting to get a 36.”“I wasn’t sure what my actual score was at first because when I saw the 36, I thought it was just telling me what the top score could be,” Pickrell said. “But then I saw that it was my score and I realized that I did do that.”
As far as passing on any tips or advice to other students preparing for the ACT and SAT, those who accomplished the perfect scores say it ranges from managing stress leading into the test days to simply practicing with sample questions and exams.
“I found out what works best for me,” Zhong said. “I think oftentimes when people are preparing for things, they may not approach it the right way or find what doesn’t work for them.