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Posted at 02:23 PM ET, 08/05/2012

A perfect ACT score for Maryland teenager


Taariq Mohammed after his wrestling team won a state championship. Oh, he also scored perfect on the ACT. (Photo courtesy of Sayyeed Mohammed)
Taariq Mohammed’s ACT test had an early hiccup.

“Did your watch beep?” a proctor asked.

Definition of guilty: His watch. It beeped.

“I need to take it away now,” the proctor said.

Taariq gave up the watch.

Definition of the moment: “It was a little weird,” Taariq said.

His pacing mechanism was gone, but nothing could apparently get Taariq off his game. The rising senior at Howard County’s River Hill High School aced the test.

Definition of aced: 36. Alternate definition: a perfect score.

“I was pretty sure I did well, but I wasn’t sure I got a perfect score,” Taariq told me the other day.

The score was confirmed in a letter he received last month from the ACT organization.

“Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare,” the letter said. “On overage, fewer than one-tenth of one percent of all test takers earns the top score. Among ACT-tested U.S. high school graduates in the class of 2011, only 704 of more than 1.6 million students earned a composite score of 36.”

Taariq says he took practice tests over and over and over again to prepare, though I’m not sure how he had time to do so because his resume is longer than mine.

Some sample entries:

* “Music Program Award for Marching Band, Percussion & Wind Ensemble”

* “Principal’s Honor Roll every quarter for 4.0 un-weighted GPA”

* “Organized dance marathon for raising money for cancer research”

* “Earned Junior Black Belt in 2007”

* “Fall planting - plant flowers and pull weeds around River Hill H.S.”

* “Coordinated fund raiser for African vaccinations

* “Performed as a Varsity Wrestler every year in high school”

That’s right, Taariq wrestles, too — in the 113 pound weight class. His team won the state championships this year, its first team title.

A wrestling championship, a perfect ACT score — that’s quite a year, and he’s not even a senior yet.

Taariq said, “Yeah, it’s been a really good year.”

He’s thinking seriously about college these days, not surprisingly. “Ideally I would like to do medicine, ultimately,” he said. He’s thinking about pre-med and engineering as majors. Where? His brothers are at Johns Hopkins.

“I kind of want to go there,” he said. “It’s a nice school and it’s nearby.”

I suspect he won’t have a problem getting in.

More education coverage:

Montgomery schools expand autism services

Fairfax County faces complaints of racial bias in high school

For Montgomery County’s mathletes, numbers are a competitive sport

Is Rocketship ready for takeoff?

By  |  02:23 PM ET, 08/05/2012

 
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