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East Ridge High School senior Johanna Back received a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT, which she look last spring. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

A SATisfactory score

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This fall when it came time to check her SAT score, East Ridge High School senior Johanna Back didn’t waste any time.

Back pulled up the SAT website to check her scores only to be confused by the results.

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Under each of the three sections – reading, writing and math – Back saw the same score – 800.

“I thought it was just telling me what the test was out of so I was looking for another button,” she said. “I was really worried that something had gone wrong, like they had corrected it wrong.”

However, there wasn’t another button.

The test was scored correctly; Back has aced the SAT with a perfect score of 2400.

“It took a really long time to sink in because it’s not very common,” she said. “It was a good surprise.”

According to statistics on the SAT website, more than 1.66 million students in the class of 2013 took the SAT at least once during high school.

Of them, only 494 students, or 0.03 percent, achieved a 2400. Just seven students in Minnesota achieved the perfect score last year.

Taking the test

Back, who lives in Woodbury, said taking the SAT wasn’t really something she had intended to do, although she did earn a high score on the Preliminary SAT.

Back earned a 34 out of 36 on the ACT test.

However, Back, a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist, said she decided to take a chance on the actual SAT after learning that in order to be named a National Merit Scholar she had to prove her Preliminary SAT score by taking the actual SAT. 

“I didn’t want not taking the test to affect me later,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a semi-finalist and then not be able to get scholarships.” 

Since Back hadn’t planned to take the SAT, she didn’t have too much time to prepare.

“I kept putting studying off,” she said. “The week before I realized it was crunch time, so I really did not study as much as I should have.”

Back said the most challenging part of the SAT for her was the reading section.

“The section is about reading it right there and then and figuring out what the author is trying to say,” she said.

Back said she actually ended up preferring the SAT to the ACT since the different sections were split into smaller portions and the test included more breaks.

“When I took the ACT, by the end, my brain was just fried,” she said.

A well-rounded high school experience

Back said her favorite classes in school have been her science courses, specifically the Project Lead the Way biomedical engineering classes.

High school hasn’t been all academics for Back though. She is currently the president of the East Ridge Key Club, a member of National Honor Society and Math Team, part of the school marching band and involved in volunteering and kumdo, a form of martial arts, outside of school.

Ivy League bound?

Now that the SAT and ACT are behind her, Back said she has started plotting her next move – college.

“It’s always been my dream to go to a really nice school,” she said.

For Back, her top school at this point is Stanford University.

Additionally, Back said she would like to attend medical school.

Back said she is leaning toward a double major in neuroscience and psychology.

“I’m interested in how the mind works,” she said. “I’ve always found dreams and how people act and their memories really interesting.”

Back said she has considered being a neurosurgeon, but that wouldn’t allow her as much patient interaction.

“You do the surgery and you’re done,” she said. “I want to be a doctor, but I want to be a doctor that can develop a connection with the patient and be a long-term thing.”

Back said she is optimistic that her SAT score will help her achieve her post-high school goals.

Back shares this advice with students currently preparing for the SAT, or the ACT: “Divide your studying up so you’re not cramming it all in at once,” she said.

However, Back reminds students to keep one thing in mind: “It’s a lot about luck too.”

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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