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Sikeston senior achieves perfect ACT score

Posted Date: 08/28/2017

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Credit – Standard Democrat

For the second consecutive year, a Sikeston High School student has earned a perfect score on the ACT.

Fadel Alkilani, son of Muhannad and Hadeel Alkilani and a senior at SHS, earned the highest possible composite score of 36 on the college entrance exam.

Alkilani said he first learned of his score over the summer after receiving an email from the ACT office.

“I was waiting for the email and checking my phone every night, and then one night I saw an email from ACT,” Alkilani recalled. “It was late at night and I texted my mom and dad and told them.”

Alkilani’s score was from the statewide ACT he took in April. Prior to that, he had taken the ACT once. It was during his sophomore year and he earned a composite score of 35.

The high school student said he worked to achieve a perfect score.

“I did practice tests, and a lot of people always ask me what they can do to earn a higher score,” Alkilani said.

He tells them to take ACT’s practice tests. Alkilani estimated he took five to 10 practice tests available through the ACT guide and online.

“Practice makes perfect, and so you have to practice and see what you missed and learn why you missed it,” Alkilani said.

He suggested while taking the practice test, students take time to write down the reasoning behind choosing their answers.Then they can go back and see what is correct and why a wrong answer was chosen, he explained.

“You want to think from the point of view of the test maker, especially with the English and reading sections,” he said.

On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.

The ACT consists of tests in English, math, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score of that test is reported separately and not included within the ACT composite score.

This summer Alkilani spent three weeks taking a coding website class at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

“We don’t have any coding classes here in Sikeston, and I wanted to get some experience of coding so I applied and got accepted into that,” he said, adding he loved the experience.

ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. As a sophomore, Alkilani also scored a 1540 on the SAT college entrance exam, which has a perfect score of 1600.

Alkilani said he plans to apply to his top college choice, Stanford University. He will also apply to some Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington University and other Missouri universities.

“Academically speaking, I like math and science so I’m trying to decide between going into medicine or engineering — or possibly a combination of both,” Alkilani said, adding economics is also an interest of his, specifically the behavioral and mathematical approach.

With the first full week of his senior year under his belt, Alkilani has a busy year ahead of him. He’s taking taking four advanced placement classes this semester: English, microeconomics, statistics and honors biology.

He’s taking microeconomics and macroeconomics via online courses through the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program, which offers online courses for K-12 students.

“I spend the last two hours of the school day doing that, and I have statistics, too,” he said.

In his little spare time, Alkilani plays the trumpet for the school’s marching band. He also participates in other school activities and organizations like Model United Nations, Future Business Leaders of America, ASTRA Club and the National Honors Society.

“Sometimes I code for fun and play video games — but not very often,” he added.

Alkilani said he’s happy to be a part of making school history by being the second student to earn a perfect ACT score.

And the school is proud of him, too.

Tiffany Morgan, SHS academic leader and assistant principal, said Alkilani is a self-driven individual.

“His drive to always wanting to learn more and increase his knowledge is unbelievable,” Morgan said. “His hard work is visible through his grades and his perfect score on the ACT. I am excited to see what Fadel’s future has in store for him.”

The first SHS student to score a perfect score on the ACT was Julius Hoang, who led the SHS class of 2017 as valedictorian. Hoang is attending MIT in Cambridge, Mass., where he plans to major in computer software engineering.

“It is outstanding that we have had two students score a perfect score on the ACT the last two years,” Morgan said. “Both students worked hard to achieve the scores and I couldn’t be happier for them. Our teachers and our academic coaches do an excellent job preparing them for the ACT.”

In addition to its counselors, Morgan said Sikeston High’s college adviser assisted the students with finding the right courses to challenge them and prepare them for the future.

“Both of the students scored their perfect scores on the April statewide test that was funded through the state,” Morgan noted. “I believe that this test was a huge benefit for the students due to the fact they were taking the test on a school day in their normal setting and routine.”

Unfortunately, the state has cut funding for the test this year, Morgan said.

When asked what he’s looking forward to most his senior year, Alkilani said he’s already anticipating graduation day. He said he’s ready for what the future has in store for him.

“I’m excited about going to college,” he said.