Lamar high school senior aces ACT
By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Aug. 29, 2002
Lamar High School senior Dave Hicks took the ACT six times before becoming the only Mississippi student and one of 43 in the nation to make a perfect score this year.
Hicks took the national, standardized college entrance exam on June 8 along with 376,000 students nationwide, including 8,300 from Mississippi. He had a 36 composite score.
Hicks's score came after he and other Lamar juniors took a year-long ACT preparatory course. Students took the ACT in October to determine their strengths and weaknesses and again in the April to assess their improvements.
Regardless of the Lamar course, Hicks said, he would have kept taking the test and trying for a 36. Hicks' lowest score was a 31 and his second highest was a 33.
In fact, after Hicks took the test as a sophomore he said he received letters from Harvard, Yale, Boston University, MIT and other prestigious schools asking him to consider them.
Preparing for the test
Sixty percent of all college-bound students take the ACT; the test costs $25 to take. The remaining 40 percent take the SAT, another national standardized test.
This is the second year Lamar High School juniors were required to take the ACT course.
Ninth-grade English teacher Cathy Stone is one of four ACT preparatory teachers at Lamar.
Stone said the course intends to prepare students for the test and relieve some of the pressure.
In Mississippi, an ACT score of 29 or better and a 3.5 grade point average earns a student an Eminent Scholars Grant a $2,500 scholarship per academic year to a state school.
Barnes said a score of 34 or better practically guarantees a student will receive a full academic scholarship to the school of his or her choice.
ACT spokesman Ed Colby said some schools offer intense preparatory courses for college entrance exams. But, he said, a year-long, required course is unusual.
Colby said the best thing for students is to start early and take hard courses. He said the ACT is curriculum-driven and designed to test how well students learned material in high school.
The ACT has four parts: English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning.
ACT offers computer software called ACTive Prep, which includes ACT practice tests, content-specific test-taking strategies and a personalized test preparation program.
Meridian High School offers a test preparatory course, but it is not mandatory. Lauderdale County public schools don't offer any such course.
Hicks said the ACT is more straightforward than the SAT.
Hicks said he plans to study engineering at Texas A&M beginning in 2003. He will receive a full academic scholarship.