Recently, Blaine High School senior Matthew Dereck achieved perfection: a 36 on the ACT test.
Colleges and universities across the United States use the ACT as an admissions measure, and a score of 36 stands out.
“It is quite a rare and significant accomplishment,” ACT spokesperson Katie Wacker said.
Nationally, in last year’s senior class, about .06 percent of the 1.8 million students who took the test earned the top score of 36. Only 27 have been awarded in Minnesota so far this year, Dereck among them, according to Wacker.
Dereck took the ACT for the first time at the beginning of his junior year, receiving a score of 32, still well above average.
“When I took it the first time, I took it pretty early so I knew that I would still have opportunities to retake it,” Dereck said.
Students can take the examination multiple times. Four tests – English, math, reading and science – are scored from 1 to 36, and the composite score is determined by calculating the average of those four marks. So, a student can miss several questions and still receive a perfect score, as Dereck did on his second attempt, earning two 35s and two 36s.
Dereck changed his study strategy before taking the examination a second time, reviewing what he had got wrong, rather than generally studying concepts, rules and formulas, he said. Practice tests helped him, too. He studied on his own, sometimes with friends.
Dereck’s efforts paid off and he became one of two Blaine High School students to earn a perfect 36 in the last nine years, according to Jim Johnson, a counselor at BHS.
There are some questions Dereck can’t answer yet: where he will attend school and what his major will be.
With a perfect ACT score, weighted grade-point average of 4.25 and extracurricular involvement, Dereck should have his pick of colleges and universities.
“A lot of where I go will be depending on how much money each costs in the end with scholarships and tuition,” he said. He’s applying to many schools, mostly in the Midwest.
By the time he graduates, Dereck will have taken eight Advanced Placement classes. His favorite subject is history, but “I probably wouldn’t go into something in history because it doesn’t seem like there would be very many career opportunities there,” he said.
Dereck keeps busy with debate, speech and National Honor Society commitments. He tutors after school, and in the summer, he works at Camp Shamineau in Motley.
Olivia Koester is at