Glencoe junior earns perfect marks with SAT, ACT tests
A Hillsboro student has achieved what the Hillsboro School District describes as the "nearly impossible" after earning perfect scores on both the ACT and the SAT college readiness exams.
Glencoe High School student Nisala Kalupahana learned of his results this month. A junior, Kalupahana took the exams over the summer.
What many students would consider to be daunting exams — as the results can dictate the fate of your academic future — Kalupahana passed with flying colors. According to the Hillsboro School District, he mastered both tests on his first try.
"Earning a perfect score on just one of these exams would place Kalupahana in an elite status among all test-takers, but doing so on both is extremely rare," district spokeswoman Beth Graser said in a statement.
Only a tiny fraction of students master the ACT. Last school year, the number of test takers who earned a perfect score of 36 was approximately one-tenth of one percent.
For the SAT, Graser said, the percentage of test takers scoring a perfect 1600 was even smaller.
Kalupahana learned of his ACT score first and was excited, but nervous, about his SAT results, he said.
"I was pretty amazed (about the ACT score)," he said. "That was pretty great. But on the SAT, I had no idea what was coming. I just did not think I would get even close to a 1600. I thought it would be nearer to 1500."
Kalupahana was in class when he refreshed his web browser and learned of his perfect SAT score.
He dropped his phone in shock, he said.
"His concern about the test was apparently unfounded, because while you can miss one question on the SAT and still receive a perfect score, he got none wrong," Graser said.
"That was an insane surprise," Kalupahana said. "I have no idea how that happened."
The results didn't come without plenty of hard work and preparation. Kalupahana took multiple practice tests before taking the exams the summer of his sophomore year, the district said. He also came up with pacing plans, as the test has a lot to do with your ability to manage the time given efficiently, he said.
Hillsboro Superintendent Mike Scott remembers Kalupahana from his middle school years. As a precocious sixth grader, Kalupahana had presented a research proposal to the Hillsboro School Board on a series of topics, from nutrition to technology and idling vehicles.
"We are all extremely proud of Nisala," Scott said. "His accomplishment is incredibly impressive and unique and we are excited to see what he does next."
With nearly two years of high school left, Kalupahana isn't sure about where he will apply to college or what he plans to study.
"That's a future me problem, is what I like to say," he said with a laugh. "This has definitely opened up my horizons. It has given me a bigger range of colleges that I can look at now."
Over the past two summers he completed several science-related internships with the Oregon International Air Show in 2018 and with IBM in 2017.
His other passions include graphic design and music, including playing clarinet in the Westside Community Youth Orchestra. He is also involved in the high school's chamber choir and speech and debate team and plays piano, guitar, and saxophone in his spare time.
"He has now demonstrated, prior to his junior year even beginning, that he has the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in first-year college courses," Graser said.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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