WEISS
Jay Calderon  /  The Desert Sun
Austin Weiss, a junior at Palm Desert High School in Palm Desert, Calif., scored a perfect 2,400 on the new SAT.
updated 4/12/2005 9:57:39 PM ET 2005-04-13T01:57:39

Austin Weiss is a pioneer in perfection, a charter member of an elite new club: students who scored a flawless 2,400 on the new SAT.

When the college entrance exam expanded from two sections to three this year, the mark required for perfection rose from 1,600 to 2,400. This week, as the 300,000 students who took the first sitting of the new test March 12 began receiving scores, the College Board reported that 107 scored a perfect 800 on each of the three sections — writing, critical reading and math.

Weiss, a 16-year-old junior at Palm Desert High School in California, learned he was one of those students after stumbling out of bed Monday morning. His mother had already retrieved his score online and posted it on the bathroom mirror.

“I put in my left contact lens and blinked a couple times and saw a little Post-it note, and it said just one thing: 2,400,” Weiss said Tuesday.

“I just leaned my head out and screamed at the top of my lungs and said, ‘Are you serious?”’ She was.

Detailed comparisons yet to come
The College Board, which owns the SAT, confirmed the number of perfect scores but has not yet publicly released detailed information about how all the test-takers did. Educators are curious whether student performance on the new test will, as the College Board has pledged, be comparable to the old.

David Benjamin Gruenbaum, owner of test-prep company Ahead of the Class in Santa Rosa and Irvine, Calif. — where two students at University High School scored 2,400 — said his students have been reporting surprisingly high scores on the new writing section, which derives one-third of its score from a written essay and two-thirds from multiple-choice grammar questions. He said one of his students who got 800 on the writing section considered math his best subject and speaks Chinese at home.

“What I’ve seen just from my students is some of the kids who are better in math are actually doing better in the writing,” he said. “I think the writing section is too coachable.”

College Board spokeswoman Caren Scoropanos said “there is no factual information to endorse that claim.” The overall distribution of scores for this year’s high school juniors will not be released until August 2006, but she said “there is a broad distribution of scores on all three sections.”

Higher proportion perfect on old test
Of the 1.4 million 2004 high school graduates who took the old SAT, 939 scored a then-perfect 1,600, according to Brian O’Reilly, the College Board’s executive director of SAT information services.

The percentage of test-takers who hit triple-perfection on the new test in March is about half that, though O’Reilly said comparisons are difficult because the group took the new test on its first offering may not be typical.

Weiss prepared by taking a full-length practice test the weekend before the test but did not take any kind of prep class — a regimen in keeping with the College Board’s recommendations. He had come within 40 points of a perfect score on the PSAT so his SAT mark wasn’t a huge surprise.

“When I came out of the test, I felt pretty confident, but I didn’t think I’d get a perfect score,” said Weiss, who says he isn’t sure of his career or college plans, but in the coming months he will be looking carefully at a number of schools including Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA and Penn.

He won’t be taking the test again.

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