PERFECT: Sullivan South junior aces ACT

Rick Wagner • May 3, 2013 at 11:52 AM

KINGSPORT — Taylor Pinto made a 34 out of a possible 36 ACT score his sophomore year of high school.

He at first thought about letting that be his final try at the test.

After all, that was an improvement over his score of 26 his seventh-grade year on the college entrance exam.

But Taylor, a junior at Sullivan South, decided with some input from his mother to try the test one more time during the mandatory but free ACT test for juniors.

And when he got back home April 6 from a spring break trip to San Diego, he had a perfect score of 36 waiting on him.

“It was when I first got home from spring break,” Taylor, 17, said of getting his perfect score, which marked a composite of 36 on all four subject areas. “I was hoping to do better than a 34 because that’s what I got my sophomore year.”

About a week later, he got a letter from the ACT confirming the perfect score and telling him he was among a group of less than one-tenth of 1 percent who took the ACT and scored a 36.

The ACT is a curriculum- and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students’ academic readiness for college. It consists of tests in English, math, reading and science, ranked on a scale of 1 to 36. Among the graduating class of 2012 in the United States who took the test, 781 of more than 1.66 million students earned a composite score of 36.

“The main reason I took this one is it was the one paid for by the school,” he said. “My mom wanted to see if I could make a 36 since I was fairly close last time.”

“I didn’t do any special preparation for it,” Taylor said. “I think the thing that helped the most is good reading skills. I love reading.”

He said reading quickly and with broad comprehension helps a lot on the ACT.

His favorite subject is math. He’s in pre-calculus this year and plans on taking Advanced Placement calculus his senior year, hopefully along with AP physics and AP chemistry. He said he plans on taking Jumpstart English, a dual enrollment program through Northeast State Community College.

Offers and communications from colleges were coming in by email or regular mail before he received his perfect score, sometimes in groups of three or four emails a day and a handful of letters in the U.S. mail.

However, he’s already tentatively narrowed his choices for college to Vanderbilt University or Duke University, with a likely major of either engineering or chemistry.

He plans on visiting Vanderbilt this summer and possibly other colleges.

Extra- and co-curricular activities include band and swimming.

He plays the marimba, basically a large xylophone, and was the percussion section leader this year for marching band, in which he plays cymbals. The band has been invited to perform in the Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia.

In addition, he is on the swim team and hopes to qualify for the state swimming competition in the butterfly and breast stroke during his senior year.

“Band takes up a lot of time, especially in the fall,” Taylor said.

In addition to visiting colleges this summer, he said he also hopes to get a job as a life guard.

Before South, he attended Colonial Heights Middle and Miller Perry Elementary schools.

He is the son of Vicky and Timothy Pinto of Colonial Heights. His older brother is a senior in college due to graduate soon with an electrical engineering degree, while his sister is in her first year of medical school.

“He’s a great player,” South band director Kenneth Carrico said. “Obviously, he’s a great student.”

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