Ioana Florea has accomplished something that fewer than 1 percent of high school test-takers nationwide can match: She made a perfect 36 on her ACT test.
Then she scored another ace with a perfect 2400 on her SAT.
She missed the triple-crown of college assessment tests by one incorrect math answer on her Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Ioana scored a 237 out of a possible 240. However, highest-scoring entrants in each state will be named National Merit semifinalists this fall, and Ioana appears to be a safe bet for that honor.
Ioana, 17, is the daughter of Drs. Cristina and Radian Florea.
College Board representatives say her academic accomplishments place her in an elite echelon of student achievers.
"Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT make a perfect score," said Nancy Owen, ACT media relations representative.
"Nationally, 294 students out of the 1.5 million who took the SAT last year made a perfect score," said Megan Dearing, communications associate of the College Board. "In Tennessee, there were three."
Making Ioana's accomplishments more commendable is the fact she spoke no English when her family immigrated to the U.S. from Romania in 1996.
Ioana said she didn't enroll in any ACT or SAT prep classes, but she did buy a book to try some ACT practice tests. She said she studied vocabulary cards to prepare for the SAT's notoriously difficult reading comprehension segment.
"I feel very confident with multiple choice questions, which is one of the difficulties for some people, especially on the SAT where some choices seem so similar," said the rising senior at GPS. "I go over all the test questions and if I can't think of an answer in a very short time, I leave that one blank and go back to it later."
She passed along these tips to success:
n Read a lot. "I've always enjoyed reading and it's helped me develop a strong vocabulary."
n Don't panic. "Go in with a clear mind. The SAT isn't the beginning or end of your world. You can always take it again."
n Trust your instinct. "If you don't think an answer needs changing, then leave it. Your first instinct is usually right."
n Prepare by building on what you learn throughout high school. "It's a lot harder to get a good score if you start preparing one month ahead. If you work hard all through high school, learn to write good papers, read a lot, it all builds up and pays off in the long run."
Ioana is currently participating in a seven-week, summer neuroscience internship at Rockefeller University in New York City. She said her mentor is studying depression and she assists in experiments, research, lab studies and more. It's a strong step forward to her goal of becoming a medical researcher.