By Rachel Pavelich
North Royalton High School seniors Brian Chu and Ryan Chester scored 36s on the ACT when they most recently took the test. Both had tested before, but when Chu took the test at Padua High School in February and Chester took it here at North Royalton High School in June, they achieved perfect scores.
The boys found the ACT website’s practice questions helpful in preparing for the test, along with getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy breakfast. They aimed for 36s when they tested.
“The secret to success has to be arriving five minutes late to the testing center,” Chu said. Chester agreed, saying that when you get to the testing center late, you must run from your car to the classroom, giving your brain a temporary boost in activity. This technique worked for the boys, as it resulted in perfect scores for both.
Chester took the test for the first time earlier this year. “In April I got a 35, and I thought I might as well try for the 36,” he said.
“I’ve had a 35 since freshman year,” Chu added.
However, both Chester and Chu found struggles when taking the test. Chester said the reading section seemed like it was too much to read with limited time, and topics never studied in the science section of the test were a challenge.
“I practiced speed reading: forcing yourself to move across the line and then move on to the second one, not lingering on one part for too long,” Chester said. “You can go back to it later, but you don’t want to waste too much time.” He also said that during the science section, he focused on the graphs and went straight to the questions.
“In math, there were lots of geometry problems,” Chu said. “Draw pictures.”
The boys began studying two weeks before the test, using sources such as the ACT Website and the ACT Blackbook. Both went into the test confident and determined to get 36s.
“Coming out of the test, I felt like I really messed up on math because I ran out of time,” Chester said. “I ended up just guessing ‘A’ on the last four problems, and I thought for sure I had to have gotten other ones wrong and those were probably wrong. I thought that was not going to let me get a 36.”
“Going out, I was confident, because it was easier than last year’s,” Chu added.
When they discovered that they had gotten perfect scores, both Chu and Chester were excited, but “not as excited as I probably should have been,” Chester said.
It was not until school got word of the achievement and the recognition started that they realized what a huge deal it was.
“A couple months after I knew, the school found out about it and that’s when everybody started knowing. That’s when people started randomly congratulating me,” Chu said.
By accomplishing this achievement, the boys have received much recognition, along with possible scholarships and college opportunities.
Chester is considering the University of Southern California, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, and New York University.
“Since they’re all private, I could only go if I’m able to get a really big scholarship, which hopefully the 36 will help with,” Chester said. If he does not get a scholarship, Chester plans to go to a state school, where he could possibly get a full ride. Chester is interested in film, aiming to become a filmmaker, but hopes to minor in business and engineering so he can “be an overall entrepreneur,” he said.
For Chu, Ohio State University and Yale are great options for engineering, making them schools he is interested in. Chu plans to study mechanical engineering in college. After some experience in the field, he hopes to return to school for a master’s degree in business administration.
In order to do so well on the test, the boys had certain ways to prepare and tips which helped lead to their success. For students planning to take the ACT, the guys advised chewing gum, eating dark chocolate, and putting in the most study time the night before the test.
“Go into the test really focused,” Chester said, more seriously. “All the preparation in the world won’t matter if you go into the test and you’re not 100 percent focused.”
“Gathering the circumstances of us two and other kids in our grade who got 35s, we’ve all had these three things in common: getting there late, dark chocolate, and salmon,” Chu said.