Alek Farmer, a senior at Fruitland High School, understands tenacity.
In his junior year, he took the ACT college entrance exam and earned a composite score of 35, one point short of acing it. That would have been fine for his college applications. He’s applying to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Brigham Young University in Provo.
But a 35 wasn’t good enough for Alek.
“Thirty-five is so close,” the 18-year old said. “And not that big of a jump to 36.”
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
So he took it again.
Just one problem. When he was done with the four-hour exam, he didn’t think he’d done well. He said he didn’t even want those scores forwarded to the universities he was considering.
But on Nov. 8, his father Rick Farmer found online results from the exam and realized his son had earned a perfect score. Less than one-tenth of one percent of those students from the class of 2016 who took the test got the top score.
2,235 Number of students in the nation’s graduating class of 2016 to get a top score on the ACT, out of 2.1 million
Rick Farmer woke his son that morning to tell him the news, “He ... kind of screamed in the pillow,” said his mother, Laurie Farmer.
The ACT measures English, reading, math and science. Each category is scored from 1 to 36 points. The composite is the average of the four categories.
“Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare,” Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer, wrote in a letter to Alek. “While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”
Alek is a straight-A student who loves math. “For whatever reason, I am just good at it,” he said. “It makes sense to me.”
He dreams of a career as an electrical engineer and making products for Apple or Google.
For now, he does some math tutoring, plays soccer and tennis, loves to read and is amassing some dual credits that will help when he goes to college after graduating in spring.
Despite his achievement, Alek doesn’t talk about it much. “He is pretty humble,” his mother said. “He’s quiet about it.”
If you have a student in the class of 2017 who attends a Treasure Valley school and got the top score on the ACT or SAT, email firstname.lastname@example.org.