Sixteen-year-old Theodore “Jeremy” Ong just got one step closer to his dream of attending an Ivy League school.
The incoming Olympia High School senior found out last week that he received a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT. It’s a feat that’s usually only achieved by a few hundred students across the country each year — less than a third of the top one-percent.
In 2014, 1.67 million students took the SAT, and 583 of them achieved the highest possible score of 2,400, according to Jose Rios, a spokesman with The College Board, owner of the SAT. Of those perfect scores, eight were in Washington state, Rios said.
Naturally, Ong’s parents Leonard and Donna May Ong are thrilled.
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“We felt it was a miracle,” his mom said. “We’re really happy.”
Ong has maintained a 4.0 his entire school career and has been involved in several activities, including chamber orchestra, Earth Corps, tennis and math club. He was one of three kids on a team that finished fifth in the country in the David Ricardo division of the National Economics Challenge.
“Jeremy is bursting with ability and he is a really kind and nice kid,” said Brian LeTourneau, a retired teacher who advises the economics team. “… He’s without a doubt the most polite kid I’ve ever had in class. He’s kind to everybody.”
Ong said he set a goal to get a high score on the SAT two years ago, when he earned a 202 out of possible 240 on the PSAT.
“That really demoralized me because I thought I was a good student,” he said. “It made me sad.”
So Ong hit the books to become better prepared for the SAT. One of his favorite tools was “The Insider’s Complete Guide to SAT Vocabulary: The Essential 500 Words.” He also enrolled in the SAT Coach course that’s offered in Olympia, where Ong said he learned test-taking strategies.
Molly Iiams-Hauser, manager at SAT Coach, said a perfect SAT score is rare, but she’s heard of a few local students who have achieved it.
“It’s a very big deal,” she said. “And I’m very proud of him. He worked for it.”
Olympia High Principal Matt Grant said he’s known of about six students in the 16 years he’s overseen the school that have achieved perfect SAT scores. He described Ong as having a passion for learning and being a well-rounded student.
“Jeremy also is heavily involved with the culture of our school,” Grant said. “... On top of it all, he is a good citizen who shows a willingness to serve others.”
Ong said his favorite classes are English, math and physics. He’s not sure what he wants to study, or where he wants to go to college. His top choices are Massachusetts Institution of Technology, Harvard and the University of Washington; although now that he has a perfect score, he might apply to more schools, he said.
Ong took the SAT three times.
He said his goal was to get above 2300, a score he felt would make him more competitive for colleges. He got a 2,010 during his sophomore year, and a 2,100 this past spring.
In addition to the test guide and SAT prep course, Ong credits luck, extra sleep the night before the test and hours of playing Egyptian Ratscrew, a high-paced card game, for his success.
“It involves luck and skill,” Ong said of the game. “On the SAT, it’s the luck of the draw.”