Taking a college entrance exam is nail-biting time for a lot of students.
But on the day in December when Steven Hayden Atchley, 17, walked into the testing room, he had only a mild case of nerves.
“I didn’t prepare for the ACT at all really,” said Atchley, a junior at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian School District. “I wasn’t worried.”
Apparently he didn’t have to be.
He got a 36 on the exam – a perfect score.
Across the country 1.8 million students took the exam last year. Only about one-tenth of 1 percent of student who take the test get a perfect score, said Ed Colby, ACT’s public relations director. For the class of 2013, the latest information available, 8,624 Idaho student took the ACT and eight received a perfect score.
School comes fairly easily, said Atchley, who has a 3.9 grade point average.
“I don’t have to spend a lot of time on school stuff to get good test scores,” he said, although he acknowledges that calculus, which he is taking this year, is a bit of a challenge.
In his spare time he goes to the Internet looking for physics questions to solve.
Example: If you have a box on the table, where can you apply force to get the most movement, most efficiently?
Atchley has always wondered how things work, said his father, Steve Atchley.
“He would take apart a computer” to figure it out, his father said. “It was probably seventh or eighth grade where he started talking much above my level.”
The younger Atchley also plays cello in the school orchestra and likes to ski and wakeboard.
He’s considering a career in engineering and is thinking of attending Brigham Young University, where his parents, Steve and Stacey, attended. He also received a letter from Yale a few days ago, asking him to consider the school.
“I haven’t thought too much about it,” he said.