Student receives perfect ACT score

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By Glen Jennings

 It is an accolade that is rare not only among Kentuckians, but among Americans as a whole. However, for one Oldham County student, it has become a reality.  Maggie Stephens, a student at South Oldham High School, has earned a perfect score on the ACT.  

Stephens, a junior, joins an extremely small number of fellow students to achieve the perfect score.  

“Less than one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT earn a 36,” Ed Colby, public relations director for the ACT, said.  “In the 2015 graduating class in Kentucky, out of just under 50,000 students…only 27 got a 36 composite score.”

Stephens, however, said she did not think the test was exceptionally challenging.  

“It wasn’t particularly hard,” Stephens said, adding that she credits her success to good preparation and study habits.  

“I used a review book and a lot of my teachers had a couple days where we went over stuff that would be on it,” Stephens said.

Stephens’ science teacher, Chrissy Bramer, said Stephens’ study habits were not the only reasons for her success.  

“She is naturally probably one of the most brilliant students I have ever taught,” Bramer said.  “She is probably at the level of many college students.  The types of questions that come to mind for Maggie are typical questions you might find at a grad school setting.”

According to Bramer, Stephens has another strength that drove her success on the ACT – she does not give up.

“She’s definitely a perfectionist,” Bramer said.  “She doesn’t like to make just a 99 or a 95.  She sets for that perfect score and really wants to accomplish that.  I think there’s a sense of pride and a sense of achievement, accomplishment and purpose when she makes those perfect scores.”

Stephens, however, is quiet, Bramer said.  She does not boast about her achievements or seek recognition.  

“She’s not one to brag,” Bramer said.  “She will tell you.  When I talked to her about her AP Bio test, she’s like, ‘Yeah, I made a five.’  She’ll tell you as a matter of fact, but I don’t think she would be one to just tell me if I didn’t ask her.”

Bramer said that Stephens’ humility extends to helping other people.  

“I saw her doing community service, picking up trash on the side of the road in Crestwood,” Bramer said.  “Typically, I don’t see a lot of students doing stuff to go above and beyond, but I do see Maggie sticking around school to tutor or to benefit other students.  I definitely see that a lot in class as well.  She’ll talk to her peers and explain things that they don’t understand.  She’s very kind in that way.”

Stephens said she has a keen interest in science and is considering pursuing an engineering degree.  

“I like that you get to solve problems with science,” she said.  “It’s not just researching stuff.  You actually get to apply it to the world and fix stuff.”  

Stephens also expressed a love of the outdoors.  She works at a camp during the summer, a job that involves monthly meetings and camping trips.  She is the vice president of a Venture Crew, an extension of the Boy Scouts open to both boys and girls.  She has hiked through Philmont Scout Ranch, a high adventure camp that involves hiking 80 miles through New Mexico.  She is working on her Girl Scout Gold Award.  

Stephens said she wants to combine her interest in science and her love of nature in future career choices, looking into both chemical and environmental engineering, jobs that she became interested in after taking an AP Environmental Science class.  

“It was one of the most fun classes I’ve ever taken,” she said.  “You got to see how what you were learning applied to real life.  It wasn’t just like, ‘Here’s this equation.  You can use this to do your taxes,’ it was, ‘This is the nitrogen cycle and how it affects human health.’”

Bramer said she believes Stephens will do well, no matter her path.

“I definitely think that Maggie Stephens will be very successful at whatever she chooses to do.” 

For other students about to take the ACT, Stephens suggested preparing well by taking a lot of practice tests, taking AP classes, studying well with a good review book and eating a good breakfast before the test.