Only 0.04% of students nationally who took the ACT college entrance exam received a perfect score last year. This year, 10 students, all from the same Irvine high school, beat the odds and are all celebrating perfect scores.
"I can tell you that’s not a common occurrence, and it is certainly a very strong achievement. We don’t often see 10 students from one high school in one year earning a 36 [perfect score on the ACT]," ACT spokesperson Ed Colby told The Huffington Post.
The ten students from Irvine University High School who received perfect scores are Jessica Huang, Krystal Lai, James Liao, Andrew Ma, Jiho Park, Neel Sabnis, James and William Xue (twins), Alex Zivkovic and Jessica Zou.
In 2011, 1,623,112 million students took the ACT and 734--52 in California--earned a perfect score.
The ACT is a curriculum-based test, Colby explained. "It's like a course exam in that way. It's not the kind of test that test prep is going to help you get a 36. You have to learn content in challenging courses that you take in school," he said.
He added, "My guess is those are students who have been working very hard for a long time to learn what teachers are trying to get across in their classes."
Principal John Pehrson told HuffPost that the school has been encouraging more of its students to take the ACT, which more closely aligns with the school's curriculum. He said that every year about three or four students get perfect ACT scores and two or three get perfect SAT scores.
Pehrson described the school as a "perfect storm for education." "The Irvine community is really focused on education so the kids come focused and apt to do well. So then teachers put them to an even higher level, and it becomes a cycle of continuous improvement," he said.
Colby said that the ACT has strict security procedures, which could be compromised if discussed. He explained that unless the company is contacted by someone at a school questioning scores, it considers all scores valid. Because ACT Inc. has not received any concerns regarding University High School's scores, "we are confident the scores are valid," he said.
Earlier this year, the College Board, which administers the SAT exam, and ACT Inc. both agreed to start requiring students to submit photos of themselves when they sign up for the college entrance exams. This is after 20 students in Long Island hired other people for as much as $3,500 each to take the exam for them. A group of students at a Los Angeles high school were suspected of doing the same thing in 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported.