Madison Pankey took the ACT in September and received a perfect score. (HANDOUT)

DeKalb County Schools student achieves perfect score on ACT

Dunwoody High School senior Madison Pankey said she didn’t expect to see a perfect composite score on her ACT test result when she looked it up in late September.

“My group tutor said you would receive a letter in the mail a few days before the results were posted online,” the 17-year-old said recently.

After seeing the score — posted online early the morning of Sept. 25 — the DeKalb County School District student said she began jumping up and down and screaming, what any teen preparing for college likely would do upon seeing a perfect score on a test that would surely bolster her chances at her dream school. Her dad was already up when she checked the score about 1:15 that morning. Then, they woke up her mom.

“It was just crazy,” she said. “It was really exciting.”

Achieving a perfect score is rare. According to ACT information, just .2% of students who take the test get one. In 2018, about 1.9 million students took the test. The average score was a 20.8. In Georgia, ACT officials said 154 of 53,036 2019 graduates who took the test scored a 36, a rate just higher than the national average at .3%.

“Earning a top score on the ACT is rare and definitely reason to celebrate,” said Ed Colby, the senior director of media and public relations for ACT, which administers the test. “The ACT measures what students have learned in their classes in school and provides valuable information about student readiness. We are pleased that so many students in Georgia opt for the ACT test each year.”

An ACT composite score is the average of scores from the four required ACT test sections, which include English, mathematics, reading and science. Achieving a perfect score also does not mean a person answered every question correct.

“But they can only miss a few,” Colby said.

Madison said her biggest worry was that test scores from her group would be invalidated when ACT tweeted that scores would be released a day late.

“Everyone was kind of nervous after that tweet,” she said.

She said she was working late on a project the day scores were supposed to be posted online and checked after realizing she was up past the announced 1 a.m. posting time. She got even more worried after first not being able to check her score from her cellphone. Noticing her father was still awake, she asked to use his computer.

“He asked ‘Are you nervous?’ I told him no because I already knew I didn’t get a 36.”

Her principal made an announcement over the school’s PA system, then posted a picture on social media of the two with a note of congratulations.

“That was exciting,” she said.

She’s preparing now to submit college applications to several schools, having not landed on one school in particular at the moment. She’s looking at the astrophysics, astronomy and environmental science fields.

“I got involved in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program in eighth grade,” she said, “and fell in love with science then.”

She said she takes mostly advanced placement and gifted courses, and has a cumulative 4.3 grade point average.

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