Gibault Catholic High School Student Spencer Biske got an exceptional birthday present when he found out he earned a perfect score of 36 on his ACT.
It was a gift he did not expect to receive because he did not think the tests would be online yet, but he checked before going to bed and saw his score.
“I was pretty excited,” the 17-year-old recalled. “I went and talked to my parents and was like ‘hey, I got a 36.’”
The ACT is a standardized test taken by high school students and used for college admissions.
It consists of tests in English, math, reading, science and an optional writing portion. Each test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four primary test scores.
Only about .2 percent of the roughly 2 million students who take the ACT each year get a 36.
Biske was not among those select few the first time he took the test last year because he got a 35, which still puts him in the 99th percentile nationally.
As many students do, he decided to take the test again. He did so at least partly out of competitiveness because his older sister, Elena, scored a 35 on the test.
“That was definitely part of it, that kind of one-upmanship,” Biske said with a laugh.
To prepare for the test, Biske, who enjoys playing soccer, solving Rubik’s cubes and running the technical aspect of plays at school, used online resources to help him study, but that was not his main approach.
“The best thing I did was keep doing the practice tests over and over again to make sure I knew what kind of questions there were and what to expect going in,” he explained. “Since I knew myself, I knew I had to study English the most.”
English is Biske’s least favorite subject in school, while he enjoys math the most.
But, as he was taking the test, he felt he did the best on the science section, though he thought he did well overall.
“I thought it was going pretty well,” the Columbia teenager said. “I definitely thought my English was better than the first time I took it. My reading was the only one I was a little worried on because there were a few that I was a little iffy on.”
The 36 should help Biske realize his aspirations.
Once he graduates from Gibault, he wants to go college and pursue a degree in astrophysics.
He is considering coastal schools such as Princeton University and Stanford University right now, but California Institute of Technology is his first choice.
After obtaining his degree, Biske said he would like to do research, most likely working for the government or at a university.
“I’ve always been interested in the theoretical stuff, and there’s a lot of that in space because we haven’t really been there,” he said. “Research is one of the main things that I looked at when deciding what I wanted to do. That seemed like the field that most interested me that I could also accomplish big things in.”