Skyline student gets perfect ACT score

September 19, 2008

By Christopher Huber

You would think that in order to get a perfect score — or at least a reasonably good one — on a college entrance exam, you might need to study a bit.

Many students may take the practice SAT their junior year of high school, or at least crack open the giant SAT or ACT test-prep book a few months before the date arrives.

The results, after all, are a weighty component in determining a student’s college prospects.

Skyline High School senior Daryl Hansen didn’t do any of that in June and still scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.

“I didn’t really study,” Hansen said. “I mean, I might have looked at things a bit, but not really. I might have looked through one of my friends’ books, but I didn’t really do anything.”

Hansen’s score put him in the top 0.1 percent of students in the United States, said ACT spokeswoman Dana Engelbert.

He became one of only four students in Washington state and 162 in the nation to post a 36 on the June 14 test. On that day, approximately 4,000 students completed the ACT in the state and more than 410,000 nationally.

Of course, he doesn’t brag about it or think it’s a particularly amazing feat to do well on the exams — he scored a 2290 out of 2400 on the SAT this year. He also maintains a 3.9 grade point average.

Hansen, president of the Skyline chess club and member of the math and Japanese clubs, is three years ahead in math and has been involved in math competitions and clubs since the fifth grade at Sunny Hills Elementary, said his father, Barry Hansen.

It’s in his genes. Hansen is good at school — especially in math and science.

Barry Hansen said he, and Daryl’s mother, Juanita Hansen, have never put pressure on their children to perform at a certain level; the children just do it.

“By the time he got into high school algebra, he was already good at it,” Barry Hansen said. “He was already prepared for it. All three of my kids are advanced in math and have been doing very well their whole life in it.”

Daryl Hansen said he is just happy he now has a good chance to get into top engineering schools like Stanford, Princeton, MIT or the University of Washington.

“I’d like to go to Stanford,” he said. “I’m hoping I can get in, but it’s not as if I’m sure I’m going to get in there, because I don’t think anybody can be sure that they’re going to get into a school like that.

“It helps,” he said of the high score. “It’s certainly nice. But I’m kind of nervous about college applications.”

Daryl Hansen, like his parents, is proud of his high scores, but acknowledges the issue at hand: graduating high school and figuring out what he wants to do with his life.

“I have a few things that I know I want to do,” he said. “I want to end up doing at least some traveling. I want a job that interacts with people and isn’t just, like, sitting behind a desk all day. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to major in. All I know is that it’s something engineering-wise. I’ll figure it out when I get there.”

The ACT is an exam that tests students in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of one to 36 and a student’s total score is taken from the average of the four subject scores. The SAT is different in that it is a more critical thinking-based test with a possible 800 points in each of three subjects: mathematics, critical reading and writing.

Technically, Daryl Hansen said, he scored 35, 35, 36 and 36 on the ACT, but the composite score rounded up to 36, because his average was 35.5. The average score nationally for the class of 2007 was 21.2.

Engelbert said the national average for test takers in 2008 was 21.1. The test, administered six times per year, has seen a 9 percent increase in the number of students taking it each year.

Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 425-392-6434, ext. 242, or

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