Noah Scholl likes to think he's pretty smart, but even he didn't expect the news he got about a month ago.
Scholl, 16, a rising senior at River Hill High School in Clarksville, received perfect scores on both his ACT (36) and SAT (2400) — a feat that he was surprised to hear.
"My dad checked the ACT scores first, while I was walking to school," Scholl said. "He texted me, and I thought he was trying to trick me. So I said, 'Oh, that's funny, ha-ha.' But then I checked them and it was true. I was ecstatic. It made my whole day."
Several weeks later, Scholl got his SAT results, and it happened again: a perfect score.
"I expected to do fairly well, but astronomically well? I did not see it coming," he said. "I didn't expect to get a perfect score. I was pretty confident going in and coming out and I thought I did well. But I have a habit of making careless mistakes so I was expecting the worse and hoping for the best."
For his accomplishments, Scholl was honored by Superintendent Renee Foose at the June 13 Board of Education meeting, along with Reservoir High School rising senior Caroline Desjardins Park, who received a perfect score on her SAT. The scores, Foose said, are "truly remarkable" achievements.
"This is really big stuff," Foose said. "We all remember taking the SAT, how hard they are and how some folks go through their whole life measuring their self-worth on that score."
According to the College Board, Foose said, more than one million students take the SAT and ACT each year, and on the SAT, students answer on average 50-60 percent of the questions correctly. A "very rare few" get perfect scores on either test — "something like .00035 percent," Foose said.
Foose described Scholl's accomplishment of getting perfect scores on both as "phenomenal."
Scholl was "awe-inspired" by the attention he and Desjardins Park received from Foose and the board.
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"I've never been in front of so many people like that," he said. "It made me feel very proud, honored."
Since receiving his perfect scores, Scholl said friends and classmates have asked for help, to impart his tricks of the trade or to tutor them. But Scholl said he doesn't advocate for much studying to prepare for the standardized tests.
"There's so much stuff to learn, and only so much you can put into a test," said Scholl, who had taken the SAT once before. "It's impossible to learn everything. In general, learn basic rules of thumb — like Latin suffixes and prefixes for the vocabulary part — and apply them instead."
Expectedly, Scholl said he didn't study much for either test. He just went through a practice materials once or twice.
"Really, my opinion with these kind of things is that it's a reasoning test, a logic test," he said. "It's not about how much you prepare. It's about your ability to think logically and reason through the questions. I've always been an avid reader and I take a lot of interest in a lot of different academic fields, so keeping my mind sharp throughout my entire life has done a lot more than studying could."
Despite acing all sections on the two tests, Scholl said his favorite subjects in school are the sciences. As a junior he took Advanced Placement chemistry and anatomy; in the fall he'll take AP biology and physics.
"I like science because I like seeing the fruits of my labor," he said. "I want to produce something that has a lasting impact on the world, like a big biological breakthrough. I want to do some kind of bio-medical research, get a PhD. I'll do clinical work on the side. Pay the bills, you know."