JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Stuart Leesong’s perfect score of 36 on the ACT college entrance exam would be noteworthy on any occasion, but to achieve the score at the tender age of 16 makes it truly exceptional.
Stuart will be a junior at Johns Creek High School, but he shouldn’t have much to worry about the next two years over where he will go to college. His application will include a perfect ACT test score of 36.
Yes, other criteria are consulted such as scholastic average, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews and personal essays. But when you can wrap it all in a perfect score from one of the two most respected measures of academic ability, it counts for a lot.
Only a 16-year-old rising junior, Stuart is one of just 781 students this year to make a perfect ACT score this year out of 1.66 million students who took the test with four sections: English, reading, math and science. The average ACT test score is 21.
In writing to Stuart, ACT Chief Executive Officer John Whitmore called his perfection “significant and rare.” The perfect score puts him in the top tenth of 1 percent who accomplish the feat.
“Your exceptional scores will provide any colleges to which you choose to apply ample evidence of your readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead,” Whitmore wrote.
Stuart’s slight Down Under accent betrays the fact that he was born in Australia. And it does account for his desire to return there to study medicine at the University of Sydney.
“Our family has a history of medical problems [his grandfather died of diabetes], and I would like to help not only my family but others,” he said. “There has been a big trend in diabetes in the Western World. It will be a major concern in the coming decades, so that is an area I would like to make improvements in.”
Although born in Australia, Stuart and family have taken circuitous route to Johns Creek. They first moved to Seoul, Korea and then briefly on to Connecticut before finally moving here.
Stuart said he never expected to make a perfect score on the test, and that may have helped him.
“I was quite unbelieving for a moment when I got the letter telling me I scored perfectly. It quite helped me that I kept my expectations lower, so I was more relaxed taking it,” Stuart said.
He chose to take ACT because it includes a science section which the SAT does not. For him though, the major difference was the SAT is based more on innate skills, while the ACT combines innate skills and more knowledge in its testing. Stuart preferred that.
Not surprisingly, he made the right choice.