Loyola Academy junior gets perfect score on ACT
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:24AM
Morgan Venkus isn’t sweating the wrong answer he had on the ACT test’s math section.
Despite the one wrong answer on the 215-question test, Venkus, 17, a junior at Wilmette’s Loyola Academy, received a perfect 36 on the college placement test he took April 10.
Going into the test, Venkus was pretty confident on how he’d perform. The Winnetka resident had taken a practice test on line — a test very similar to the actual ACT. “I got a perfect score on that, so I was pretty confident,” he said.
His participation in Loyola Academy’s Scholastic Bowl team, as well as other academic competitions, may have also prepared him for the rigors of taking the test.
“He’s been a varsity starter since his sophomore year and has traveled around the country with Loyola’s team to compete,” said his coach, Mathew Laird. “Morgan evolved from the fourth-best scorer on our team to the second best in just one short school year. He is one of the reasons that our team is ranked fourth in the nation right now.”
Still, Venkus said, Scholastic Bowl competitions tests a different skill set than that is asked on a standardized test like the ACT.
“It kind of tests a totally different skill set. It is more comprehension — you have to understand what they are talking about. They might be asking about a book, you are listening to it being read. It’s ‘It sounds like a Kurt Vonnegut book, it sounds like something he would have written.’ That helps you narrow it down, by context clues.”
He also discovered on the ACT test that in the reading section, if he read the questions first, he had a better idea of what to focus on when he went back to do the reading.
It makes sense that he focused on the language section — his favorite subjects are history and literature. Venkus said he reads Charles Dickens novels for fun, and enjoys writers from around the world, too.
“I read a lot in my free time. I usually read and I like … world literature. I will read from Indian and Argentine writers,” Venkus said.
But no, he assured, he is reading the translated works, not in the original Hindi or Spanish.
He wasn’t overly upset about the one wrong math question either, Venkus said. While he feels he is good at math — when he was in middle school he took algebra at New Trier High School — he is more of a reader.
“I find it hard to do math on the paper, without errors on the problem,” he said.
His family, including parents Laura Larsen Venkus and David Venkus, “have all been really proud of me and really supportive. My grandmother called after she heard and she was very happy for me.”
Now that he’s taken the ACT, Venkus is considering whether or not to take the other college placement test, the SAT.
Neither is he quite sure yet where he will go to college, or what he will study.
He’s checked out close-to home schools like Northwestern and Notre Dame, and plans to check out schools further afield this summer.
He does have advise for students preparing to take the ACT later this year or during their senior years.
“Go in and do your best. You can take it multiple times and they will look at your highest score. So go in, try your best, and go with it,” he said.