Like any other fifteen-year-old, Angelina Cho likes playing video games, participating in clubs at her school and gardening. But unlike other teenagers and high schoolers, she has earned a perfect score on the ACT, or American College Testing. 

"I was jumping up and down when I got the letter," Angelina said. Later she and her family went out to get ice cream. 

The Centennial High student knew that even taking the test as a sophomore was rare, but getting a 36 was rarer. 

Rare, but not impossible.

"There are impossible things, but getting a perfect score on the ACT is not one of them," Angelina said. 

But it's certainly a milestone for any high schooler in the nation to achieve. Angelina represents one-tenth of one percent of test takers. To put that into perspective, she's one of 2,760 students who got a composite score of 36, according to Marten Roorda, chief executive officer at ACT.

That's 2,760 out of 2 million students who took the ACT last year. 

She's not the only Bakersfield resident to complete this. The last perfect scorer was Aaron McKenzie in 2016. McKenzie was a senior at Stockdale High School at the time. 

Leading up to the test, Angelina said she was confident. Test questions became like muscle memory to her.

"The saying is, 'shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars,' " she said. "But I like the modified one, 'shoot for the stars, land on the moon, and take a break and keep going to the stars.' "

Angelina said she doesn't know what this score will unlock for her, that is, she doesn't have any colleges in mind to attend or career goals yet. 

Her drive comes from her family. Her parents constantly remind her to enjoy what she's doing and have fun no matter what. 

"The value of education was instilled in me by my grandparents," she said. "They didn't come from a very rich background, but they made it though education and hard work."

Kai Cho, Angelina's father, said he and his wife tell Angelina and her younger brother, Sydney, to study for the love of new knowledge, not just for a test. 

"I always believed she should grow up to be a well-learned person," Kai Cho said. "To show that she can make a positive impact." 

Angelina said people often see straight-A students as people who study for 12 hours a day. That's not the case for her. She studied for the ACT for 30 minutes every day starting last December. 

"I have a rough schedule, but I'm not neurotic. I find time to relax," she said. "It's no good having straight As if you're not happy." 

Angelina said Sydney sees her as a role model and she plans to help him in any possible way for the ACT, even encouraging him to join her in the 36 composite score club as a freshman. 

"I'm not a robot," she said. "My whole philosophy is work hard, play hard."

(5) comments


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