Shawnee Mission South senior wins sibling rivalry battle, besting brother by a point to get perfect ACT score


Shawnee Mission South senior Madison Burch’s score of 33 on the ACT when she first took it in February was a remarkable accomplishment on its own, putting her in the 99th percentile of all test takers.

Madison Burch
Madison Burch
But the words of her older brother Andrew kept ringing through her head.

“He would always tell me, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last,'” Burch said. “It was kind of a family joke. He’s been telling me that for my whole life pretty much.”

Burch thought, why not give the test one more shot, just to see if she could tie the score of 35 that Andrew achieved when he took the ACT more than a decade ago as a student at SM South?

Well, she says, “I’m not last anymore.”

Burch sat down for another go at the ACT in early June, and found out she’d gotten a perfect 36 a few weeks later. Burch was at band camp (she plays the alto sax in the Raiders’ band), the day the scores were posted, and said she was totally shocked by the results. Less than one tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT get a perfect 36.

“I was thinking, come on, hopefully I got the 35,” she said. “You never expect something like that.”

Burch has already been accepted to K-State, where Andrew, now 31, attended. But she says she’ll likely apply to a few more schools, like Northwestern, the University of Chicago and a couple of spots in Los Angeles.

When the scores popped up on her phone, Burch sent a screenshot to her parents, who were elated, and to her older brother.

“He said that in his day it was a lot harder to get a perfect score because you couldn’t miss a single question,” she said. “He said it was easier for people now.”

Older brothers, people. Older brothers.