Friday, February 6, 2009

Girl makes perfect score on ACT

The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Perfect. But Melaine Sebastian will be the first to tell you that the word doesn't suit her.

But perfection is what Sebastian, 17, accomplished in December when she took the ACT and achieved a composite score of 36 on the college entrance exam.

It's a feat that few students accomplish. In fact, last academic year, only 514 students in the

country and only five in Louisiana achieved a 36 on the test, according to Ed Colby, a spokesman for American College Test.

"Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the test earn a score of 36," Colby said.

The test was taken by more than 1.4 million students last year and assesses students' skills in math, reading, English, science and writing.

Melanie Sebastian sits in her room on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009.

It was Sebastian's third time to take the test, but charm had nothing to do with it.

The first time Sebastian took the ACT she scored a 26. She was in the seventh grade.

The testing was part of a Duke University study that gauged the effectiveness of gifted programs.

The second time was in early 2008. She scored a 33.

A little positive peer pressure from her friends convinced her to try again. So she decided to buy one of those test preparation manuals to help. If not for Hurricane Gustav causing her family's evacuation to Monroe, she said, she likely wouldn't have cracked the guide open.

"I think what helped me are the challenging classes I have at Lafayette High," Sebastian said. She's in the gifted program at the high school.

The hardest part of the test? The essay.

"Twenty-five minutes doesn't cut it for me," she said. "I think I can write a kickin' essay if I had the time. I'm picky when it comes to word choice and when it comes to structuring my sentences."

Her perfect score isn't really the topic of many conversations.

"It's hard to talk about," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "You try to encourage friends who have scores they worked hard for, too. I try to remind people, I'm just a kid. I work hard for what I do earn."


Information from: The Advocate,

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