Two students in the William S. Hart Union High School District have earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. Ashika Thomas, a senior at Valencia High, and Kailyn Stevens, a senior at Golden Valley High, achieved a milestone that, on average, only around one-tenth of 1 percent of students taking the ACT earn.
The ACT and the SAT tests are used for college admissions and merit-based scholarships. Both cover basically the same topics and colleges accept either test.
The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1 to 36.
A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. The score for ACT’s optional writing test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.
Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias said this is the first time he can remember that he had a student achieve such a score.
“Kailyn is a very special person,” he said. “This score makes her pretty darn attractive to a lot of schools.”
At 16, Kailyn Stevens said she felt prepared for the ACT but was surprised she did so well. Her schedule is daunting. On top of her studies, she plays clarinet in the marching band and performs in both choir and theater.
“Everybody has to have some fun,” Stevens said when asked about her long school days, which sometimes last until 9 p.m. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Stevens would like to pursue a degree in bioengineering and plans to apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford but also has a soft spot for UC San Diego.
Valencia High School Principal Steve Ford said it’s not common to see a student with these kinds of scores. He told Ashika Thomas to aim high and find a school that’s a good fit for her.
She would like to attend UCLA or Stanford and major in biology, especially anatomy.
“I’m a California girl, so I want to say here,” Thomas said when thinking about East Coast universities.
“I want to go into the medical field, but not a doctor,” she added. “I’m probably going to work in a lab. I don’t like seeing blood come out of people.”
She said she took several ACT practice tests but didn’t think she had done well.
“I felt so bad the night before and I wasn’t going to go in, but I already paid the fee (for the test) so I went ahead,” she added.
Thomas, 17, also has long school days with tutoring young students and volunteering at the library in the afternoon. She said she loves music.
“I am in choir and I really love signing and playing the piano,” she said. “I did my first solo this year.”
Thomas acknowledges she doesn’t get much sleep but said she can deal with it.
“I’m a good multi-tasker,” she said.