Jacob Tentis said he kept going back to take the ACT because he knew he could score higher. He was driven in part by sibling rivalry: He wanted a better score than his older sister.
Jacob, a 17-year-old student from Triad High School, scored a perfect 36 on his third attempt.
He recently sat down with the Belleville News-Democrat to talk about his experience and share his test-taking advice.
Q: Why did you decide to try for a third time?
A: “I knew, especially after the second time where I got the same score (34), I was like, ‘I know I can do better than this.’ I was sort of convinced. I knew that I could get it. So I decided to keep trying for it until I got it, essentially. Also, it was a quest to sort of upset my sister a little because my older sister got a 34 on hers, so I wanted to beat her as well.”
Q: What was her reaction to your perfect score?
A: “She acted like she didn’t care when I texted her, but I know she did.”
Q: How do you think you were able to get that perfect score?
A: “A major thing is just preparation, in general. So I went to the College Preparation Station in Maryville, and they helped a lot with the whole test prep process. They just teach you how to do the test, what’s going to be on it, strategies to take, etc. I think that really helped a lot to improving the scores, because there’s just so much nuanced things about it that I wouldn’t have actually known without going there.”
Q: What were some of the nuanced things that you learned about?
A: “Most of the nuanced things are time management-based. Time is one of the major limiting factors on the ACT. I feel like most people, they know the content, but it’s just putting down the content on the paper in the 60 minutes per test or whatever that they give you.”
Q: What would you say you struggled with the most?
A: “What I struggled with the most on the test was probably the math portion. ... I feel like I might have gotten a little bit lucky on that one because it’s mostly geometry and stuff that I struggle with, and there was very little of it on this one, which definitely helped. Math (section of the ACT) is always the one I’ve gotten the lowest scores on.”
Q: Did you also take the SAT? What’s the difference between the tests?
A: “I have taken the PSAT (practice test). ... The formats are similar but not exactly the same. I definitely prefer the ACT’s format, mainly because there is an entire science section. There’s not a science section on the SAT. The science is sort of incorporated into the other sections on the SAT. In addition, on the SAT, I think the math is a little bit harder since there’s a portion of it where you can’t use a calculator. So not being as strong in math, the SAT’s definitely harder for me, but other people might be different. So definitely seeing what both of them entail and learning which one would be better for you to take is a good idea for a standardized test.”
Q: Do you have any other advice for students who haven’t taken either test?
A: “Take it more than one time and try to start earlier. I’ve seen a lot of kids in classes and stuff, they’ve started taking it this year and not very many of them, if any, started taking it last year during sophomore year. It’s almost like if you start in sophomore year to learn the format and then the majority of the actual content, you learn during junior year, so ... you’re going into it not completely blind if you’ve already taken it a couple times; you can know the format, know how to properly time manage, and then you can actually get all of the questions right.”
Q: What do you plan to do after high school?
A: “After high school, I plan to go to a college, and I’m wanting to get a degree in computer engineering and then after that, work for some sort of tech company.”
Jacob said his interest in computer engineering came from playing video games like “League of Legends.” He built a computer to play games online. Now he wants to build computer hardware for his career.