High School Junior Gets Perfect ACT Score and Near-Perfect SAT Score
Steven Cayea, a 17-year-old high school junior in suburban New York, doesn't think his latest accomplishments are any big deal.
But the bar is set pretty high when it comes this teen's life as an overachiever.
He plays in the school orchestra, is on the track and baseball teams, serves on his high school's leadership board, volunteers at a local hospital and spent six weeks last summer working on a biology project with a professor at Hofstra University.
And now he's a social media sensation and a local celebrity after scoring a perfect score on the ACT and a near-perfect tally on the SAT.
"It's crazy. Even in, like, just school, all my friends (are) saying 'Congratulations,' as I walk past them," Cayea told InsideEdition.com. "Teachers I don't even know, that I've never had, saying 'Congratulations.' It's amazing seeing the positive reinforcement for this."
Amazing also applies to his scores. Out of the 1 million students who annually take the SAT, only about 300 get the highest possible score — 1600. Cayea scored 1570. Only about two-tenths of 1% score a perfect 36 on the ACT, as Cayea did.
While taking the ACT — which covers English, math, reading, science and an optional essay test — Cayea said his biggest worry was about where his next meal was coming from.
"I was just hungry, really," he said. "It takes a lot of energy to get through the test like that, so I was worried about lunch the most."
The teen had taken a practice run at the SAT, earning a score of 1510. But his perfect finish on the ACT occurred the first time he took the comprehensive, college-entrance exam.
"I just tried to keep my mind off the test. ... Because I don't want to think about how big the test is while I'm taking it," he said.
He has some tips for fellow high schoolers about to sit down for the stressful exams that can make or break a college application.
"Definitely don't get nervous," he said. "If you happen to study beforehand, don't study over stuff that you know ... work on stuff that you have difficulty with. Don't waste time on things you already know."
And if you get stumped, move on.
"If I ever spend more than half a minute to a minute on a question, I just move on to the next one and then go back to it with a fresh mind later," he said.
He also kept in mind the fact that a do-over was possible.
"You could always retake it and you could try harder the next time, but this time won't matter as much as you think it does right now," he said.
Cayea said his college picks include Cornell and Vanderbilt universities. He plans a career in the medical field, perhaps as an anesthesiologist.
He wants, he said, to help others. And he credits his mother and father for instilling in him the conviction to do his best at all times.
"I just know that my parents have always taught me, if I'm going to do something, to give it 110% and to never just go through the motions," he said. "I've always just applied that to everything I've done."
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