North County High School junior scores a perfect 2,400 on new version of SAT

Linthicum teen among 5 in Md., 107 nationwide to ace exam

April 20, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

A North County High School junior has become one of the first in the nation to reach the top ranks of college-bound students on the new SAT.

Nathan L. Giles, 16, of Linthicum discovered last week that he'd scored a perfect 2,400 on the new SAT administered in March. He is one of five students in Maryland and 107 nationwide to achieve the score.

"I pretty much didn't believe it," Giles said. "I figured I would wait for the paper in case they made a mistake."

The College Board, which administers the college entrance exam, changed its format this year, adding an essay and other components to the standard lineup of math and verbal multiple-choice sections. The new writing section brings the maximum score to 2,400, compared with 1,600 under the old format.

"He's very reserved and quiet, and this is kind of over the top for him," said North County Principal Patricia A. Plitt.

College Board officials would not release the names or locations of the other Maryland students for privacy reasons.

Ninety percent of the 304,000 students who took the new test in March were high school juniors, said spokeswoman Caren Scoropanos.

Plitt said that most seniors entering college in the fall have already taken it. Also, some reservations have been expressed about the new version of the test, which was first offered in March. Some wondered whether scoring would be overly strict or too lenient, particularly on the essay.

"It was really a roll of the dice for anyone to take," she said.

But Giles decided to take it in March because, he said, "there's no benefit in procrastinating."

This was not his first experience taking the SAT. When he took the former version as a sophomore, he earned a combined score of 1440, he said.

Giles wrote one practice essay and studied vocabulary words to prepare for the March exam.

"I felt that was my biggest weakness," he said.

His essay question asked about democracy and its viability, a topic that came up in both his Advanced Placement U.S. history and his AP English literature and composition classes. He wrote about the need for education for democracy to work properly, he said.

"I had a lot of examples to add into my writing," he said.

Giles, who is also taking AP computer science and calculus, hopes to study computer science and work for the government, perhaps the National Security Agency.

At North County, he's part of the robotics team and Future Business Leaders of America. He also plays saxophone in North County's marching and jazz bands.

Giles is considering his college options, focusing on those with historically strong computer science departments, such as Stanford and Carnegie Mellon universities, as well as the University of Maryland.

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