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Perfect scores: East Ridge student ACT up

East Ridge High School seniors Matthew Ickstadt and Eaman Shire have aced the ACT test.

The students, who took the ACT test last June, earned a perfect score of 36.

"I was at home alone at the time," Ickstadt said about getting his score in the mail, "and I kind of freaked out."

"I wasn't expecting that score," Shire said, "so, I was just really happy."

The ACT test assesses students' academic readiness for college in the areas of English, mathematics, reading and science.

According to the official ACT website, one-tenth of one percent achieves a perfect score on average.

"You don't go into an ACT in general and expect to get a 36," Ickstadt said. "It's definitely surprising. I'm glad I won't have to take another one."

A 'nirvana moment'

Both Ickstadt and Shire took their ACT tests in June.

This marked Ickstadt's first try at the test, whereas Shire had taken it once before.

Shire earned a 32 on her first test.

Ickstadt said he didn't spend much time preparing for the ACT since he planned on having to take it again.

"I just wanted to see how I would do," he said.

Shire, on the other hand, spent 30 minutes to an hour every day for the three weeks leading up to the test.

On the day of the test, both Ickstadt and Shire said they walked away feeling confident.

"I felt pretty good about it," Ickstadt said. "It just seemed really easy at the time, I must have had some kind of nirvana moment."

Shire agreed that she felt confident following the test, even though she struggled somewhat with the science section.

"It was pretty tricky," she said.

Advancing their academics

A typical study day for Shire consists of doing homework as soon as she gets home.

On average, Shire said she studies about three or four hours each night.

For Ickstadt, his studying is reserved until later in the night, until around 8 or 9 p.m., when he gets home from his activities — marching band, robotics and theater.

Ickstadt said he studies for about two or three hours each night.

Both students said their favorite classes in school are their science courses.

With a high ACT score of 36, Ickstadt and Shire essentially have their pick of which colleges they want to apply to.

Ickstadt said he is looking at applying to the University of Minnesota, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University, with a likely major in something related to the sciences.

"I'm kind of expecting to come out of a college with a different degree than I go in with," he said.

Shire said she will be applying to the University of Minnesota and Harvard University.

She is hoping to study biology.

Both Ickstadt and Shire have the same advice for any students currently preparing for the ACT — stay calm.

"Don't get nervous, because if you do, you'll freeze up during the test," Shire said.

"I think that's why I did so well," Ickstadt said, "it was one of the few tests that I took that I wasn't stressed out about it.

"Just get a good night's sleep and don't worry too much."

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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