Q&A | Erin Gwaltney

Gwaltney received a 36 on her ACT in December 2018


Regan Peterson

Gwaltney received a perfect score on her ACT, something less than one percent of students do.

Erin Gwaltney (11) defied the odds when she received a perfect score of 36 on her ACT in December 2018.

Just .20 percent of every student that takes the ACT receives a 36, according to the ACT 2018 Profile Report. With such a small percentage of students who receive such a high score, the EHS-hub decided to talk to Gwaltney and find out just how her testing experience went.

Gwaltney currently takes six weighted-grade classes, with her seventh being orchestra.

Tell me about your experience with the ACT:

I’m really good at recognizing patterns on standardized tests. Once I get what the question is asking and what it’s trying to trip me up on, it becomes more of a puzzle and less of a knowledge-test.

How did you prepare for the ACT?

I took practice ACTs. I also have a book that I used for Reading because that’s the one that I had to prepare most for.

What was the hardest part of the test and why?

For me, it was definitely time-management. There’s some questions that I really wanted to spend so much time on, but I knew I couldn’t. You just have to get yourself past it. If you do get past it, you may have enough time to come back.

Was there a section that was harder than the others?

I took it with Writing. Since Writing was at the end, it was very exhausting. I did not want to do the writing because I had just taken a multiple choice test. Effort-wise, I thought that was the hardest. It was hardest to get through it. Academically, English was the hardest because they all sound the same.

How did you think you did?

I thought I did well because I knew what I was doing. I didn’t expect a perfect score. I cried in class when I got it. I didn’t know that scores were going to come out that early. I was anticipating above a 30, but I didn’t expect to get a 36.

What was your reaction when you found out your score?

I was crying of happiness. It was in AP Government. I logged into the website and I pressed to see the scores and I saw it. I saw 36, but it didn’t register for a second. But then I was like “Oh, wow,” and I started crying.

What are your plans for the future?

Some colleges I’ve visited, if you have a certain ACT score and a certain GPA, you’re already in. Places with a high acceptance rate, I could stand out as opposed to somewhere like Stanford where everybody is at that level. I haven’t ruled any schools out, but I like smaller schools where I can both shine and be surrounded by people who are smart like me. I’m thinking chemical engineering or chemistry. Maybe I’ll go into alternative energy or medicine because I want to save the Earth.