In January 2012 Joan Zhang bubbled her way to SAT perfection. This is no small feat, as each year less than .02% of high school students earn a perfect 2400. I had the pleasure of talking with Joan about her success and her preparation with Test Masters. Through our chat, I discovered something unexpected – she is just like any other high school student. That’s right, Joan isn’t a hybrid teenage robot who magically computes every correct answer on the SAT.
Many people put perfect scorers on an idealistic pedestal laced with stereotypes – Perfect scorers know what they are going to major in (probably something math or science related), are sure to have their university and career plans precisely lined up for the next 10 years, and never needed any sort of practice. Well, if you believe these common misconceptions, you, too, have been deceived. Joan, and all other perfect scorers, is just your average high school student who has worked hard towards attaining a specific goal. Just like the star football player practices his sport each day at football practice, an SAT all-star has to put in the same kind of dedication to her craft. Read on and you will see that Joan is still weighing her college options, loves music, and has to practice to become perfect.
Q: Where do you plan to go to college and what would you like to study?
A: “This is question that we’re always asked, and most people will answer that they don’t know. Frankly, that is true, because it’s hard to know which colleges will grant you that golden ticket. To me, I want to keep an open mind and not let labels define which schools I look at. I may be romanticizing, but I would like my ideal college to be a place where students challenge and support one another to dream big.”
“Right now, I would love to study business, not because many parents are pushing their kids to do so, but because I feel that business is essential in many different fields. I think a key aspect of being a successful person (in conjunction with good virtues) is the ability to sell oneself and one’s personality. I’d also like to be able to double major in music performance on flute.”
Q: Why did you choose to take a Test Masters test prep course?
A: “There are many students who spend their summers volunteering at Hospital A, or researching with Institute B, or (for some early birds) preparing for college essays, which is wonderful, and I’m sure that these activities are very enriching. However, this can really overwhelm even the most studious individuals and take away from their SAT prep time. Taking Test Masters really forced me to sit down and focus on the SAT, and allowed me to go through concepts that I hadn’t previously been able to put into words or fully comprehend.”
Q: What did you like best about Test Masters?
A: “The attitude and atmosphere of the classroom made Test Masters a very enjoyable experience. The SAT can’t exactly compete with Facebook or video games, so it’s incredible to me that Test Masters was able to keep everyone’s attention. I loved that I was able to learn important skills, but also laugh in the process. I know that if my brother were answering this question though, his answer would definitely be the candy.”
Q: Do you feel that you could have achieved a perfect score had you not taken a Test Masters class?
A: “The Test Masters exam clubs are essential towards achieving a 2400. It was really helpful to take actual SAT tests because it made test day seem like just another practice test. Taking the test takes enough focus, so it really helps to get rid of the nerves.”
Q: How helpful was Test Masters in helping you attaining a perfect score?
A: “I know that I could not have achieved a 2400 without Test Masters. For the writing and math sections, the Test Masters classes allowed me to go over all the different concepts that I may have previously forgotten. The exam clubs allowed me to practice reading sections to a point where I almost caught myself enjoying the passages.”
Q: What were the Test Masters teachers like?
A: “The teachers connect with the students so well, and even though they rotate every class, you feel like they’re your friends by the end of each class. They know what they’re talking about when it comes to the test material, but they also are able to communicate in our language. They understand our modern infatuations, and this ability to relate allows them to speak to us when it comes to the important SAT concepts.”
Q: How were the Test Masters study materials?
A: “The essay format is invaluable! Although I feel that it’s important to make the format your own, it really relieved a lot of the stress in finding the words to put on paper. The vocabulary list is also an essential tool that can really help even after the course is over. I remember studying the vocabulary lists on the nights before both the PSAT and SAT.”
Q: What advice would you have for the students preparing for the SAT?
A: “Don’t ever limit yourself because of what others think. No matter what you get on your first couple tries, a 2400 can be possible if you work towards it. I’m an avid supporter of the idea that persistence is the driving force behind success, and the first step is being able to dream it. Just because you’re not one of those kids that reads constantly, or makes straight A’s, doesn’t mean that you can’t do well on the SAT.”
To read more about other Test Masters Perfect Scorers (because there are many of them!), click here.
Too long, didn’t read? Let’s let Joan speak for herself; check out the video below!