Highland News Leader

This Highland student got a perfect score on the ACT — on her first try

Highland High School senior Emilie Hoepker scored a perfect composite score of 36 when she took the ACT in June. This was the first time Hoepker took the test, and she said she did it with no preparation. Hoepker Plans to attend Southwestern Illinoi College next year to study  computer-aided design and drafting (CADD).
Highland High School senior Emilie Hoepker scored a perfect composite score of 36 when she took the ACT in June. This was the first time Hoepker took the test, and she said she did it with no preparation. Hoepker Plans to attend Southwestern Illinoi College next year to study computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). mbraa@bnd.com

Highland High School senior Emilie Hoepker recently earned the highest possible ACT composite score, and she did it on her first try.

“This is an amazing accomplishment for Emilie, her family and the HHS community,” said Chris Becker, the school’s principal.

Hoepker took her first and only swing at the college placement exam in June, without any preparation or practice tests.

“I just decided to take it to see what I could do,” Hoepker said.

And she only missed one question.

On average, about one-tenth of a percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. graduating class of 2017, only 2,760 out of more than 2 million graduates who took the test earned a composite score of 36.

The ACT is a curriculum-based college readiness exam. The assessment consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four tests. The score for ACT’s optional writing test is reported separately and is not included within the composite score.

Students who earn a 36 composite score have likely mastered all of the skill and knowledge they will need to succeed in first-year college courses in core subject areas.

But making the grade has always came as second nature to Hoepker.

During an average school week, Hoepker said she rarely spends more than an hour outside of school doing homework, or preparing for tests. Actually, the straight A student said she has never really studied for any subject other than history.

In addition, Hoepker’s curriculum is usually lined with an array of advanced placement courses, which has helped her to achieve a 5.2 cumulative GPA. She is also expected to graduate early this December.

When it was her time to take the test, Hoepker said she wasn’t nervous, in fact she was just the opposite. She had already taken the PSAT and the SAT, so she had an idea for how the test was structured.

“I do like standardized testing,” she said.

She calculated her strategy. At the start of every section she skimmed the test to gather all the main ideas. After doing so, she said she knew she did not have to worry about time.

Answer after answer, question after question, Hoepker said the test was an easy ace. However, when the test scores came back, Hoepker said she was still surprised.

“I didn’t think it was 36 worthy. But I didn’t think it was that bad,” she said.

Hoepker said that after she graduates, she plans to focus on her Jehovah’s Witness volunteer work.

In the fall of 2019, Hoepker plans to attend Southwestern Illinois College to study computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). But mostly importantly, Hoepker said she is looking forward to using her talents to help others.

“So far I’m thinking the sky is the limit,” Hoepker said.

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