When Rob Simpson’s dad opened up the envelope from American College Testing, it created a bit of a commotion in the Simpson household.
“I came out and asked, ‘What’s going on?'” Simpson said. “And my dad says, ‘I think there’s been a mistake because they gave you the highest ACT score possible.'”
Simpson’s dad was just joking around. He knew there hadn’t been a mistake — but he wasn’t making up the score: the SM East senior is among a very select group of students who notched a perfect 36 on the college entrance exam.
And here’s the really remarkable thing: Simpson didn’t do anything to prepare for the test, which he took in mid-October. No prep courses. No sample tests. Nothing.
“I figured I was going to take it several times,” Simpson said. “So this was just kind of going to be the run where I found out what it was like.”
In recent years, approximately 600 students per year among the 1.5 million or so who take the test score a perfect 36. To put that in perspective, just .0004 percent of test takers earn a 36.
Simpson said he actually missed a couple of trigonometry questions on the math portion of the exam (earning a 35 on that section), but flawless performances on the English, science and reading sections left him with a 36 composite score.
“I’d taken this really hard science class at East [AP Chemistry II], and the science section of the test was easier than class,” he said. “I felt very well prepared for that part.”
Simpson, who is also active in SM East’s theatre program, says he’s hoping to play the cello in college, and is looking to attend Indiana University or the University of Missouri – Kansas City.
Rare as the feat of scoring a 36 on the ACT may be, Simpson is not alone in recent SM East history. SM East graduate Christian Wiles notched a 36 in 2011. He’s currently a student at Arizona State University where he studies mechanical engineering.