High scorers: Carroll County students make top marks on college entrance exams

Friday, November 25, 2016
Green Forest High School students (from left) Henry Holtkamp, Cole Armer, Trinity McMahan, Nick Luebbering, Daisy Reyna, Sloane Coffey and Alex Cisco all scored in the 30s on the ACT, putting them in the top percentile of students in the nation. (Photo by David Bell/Carroll County News)

Carroll County students are breaking into the top bracket on the ACT this year.

Both Berryville High School and Green Forest High School have had multiple students score a 30 or higher on the exam so far. According to ACT.org, students who make a composite score of 30 or higher are among the 95th to 99th percentile rankings across the nation.


Berryville seniors Cole Parton and Mary Hudgens scored in the 30s on the ACT, putting them in the top percentile of students in the nation. Not pictured is Luke Sugg, who also scored in the 30s. (Photo by Kelby Newcomb/Carroll County News)

Berryville seniors Mary Hudgens, Cole Parton and Luke Sugg all scored in the 30s on their most recent ACT exam.

Hudgens, who scored a 30 on the exam, said she felt relieved when she saw her score.

"I wanted to get a good school to help me with college tuition, so I felt relieved when I saw that I made a 30," she said. "It's definitely going to help with scholarships."

Parton said he was excited to see that he had made a 31 on the ACT.

"I was pretty pumped because I knew it would come with some scholarship opportunities," he said.

Sugg, who scored a 30, said he did not expect to do so well on the exam.

"I was really excited. I actually thought I wasn't going to do as well on this one as I did last time," he said. "It was nice to see that I got a 30."

Hudgens said she prepared for the exam with ACT prep books, taking practice tests and timing herself as she would be on the testing day.

"Timing and not losing focus are the biggest challenges, so I tried to prepare myself," she said.

Parton said perseverance is the biggest challenge when taking the ACT, which lasts for about four hours.

"It can be tough getting all the way through and making sure you're trying as hard at the end as you did in the beginning," he said.

Sugg said it is important for students to stay calm while taking the exam.

"I think a lot of people know the material, but they get nervous," he said.

Hudgens said she is not sure what college she will attend yet but plans to major in history. Parton said he will probably attend Arkansas Tech University in Russellville but has not decided on a major yet. Sugg said he plans to attend either Arkansas Tech University or the University of Arkansas and will major in agribusiness.

Green Forest

Green Forest High School is celebrating a big win on the ACT, having seven students who made a 30 or higher on the exam this semester so far.

Cole Armer, Trinity McMahan, Daisy Reyna, Sloane Coffey, Alex Cisco, Henry Holtkamp and Nick Luebbering scored in the top percentile of the exam.

Many of the students credited ACT prep courses and materials for their success on the exam.

Armer, a senior who scored a 32, said he used an ACT prep booklet full of practice tests to prepare. He said he would take the tests and time himself as he would be timed on the actual exam.

"I would go back and see what I missed and try to fix that. If there was something where I didn't know why I missed it, I would get online and see what the process would be," he said.

Reyna, a senior who scored a 32, said the ACT Prep Program offered by the high school really helped her prepare for the exam.

"I haven't taken the ACT before, just the prep classes," she said. "I was just hoping for a 28. When I saw that I got a 32, I thought there must be some mistake. I was thrilled."

High school counselor Jonie Standlee said the ACT Prep Program and an ACT study book are offered to all Green Forest juniors for free. There is also a four-day ACT prep session offered in the summer, she said. She said the programs are so successful because students get to take practice exams in the same way they take the real ACT.

"The practice exams come from the ACT website, so they look just like the real exam," Standlee said. "Students are timed on each section and get to see how the test is organized."

Some students took their test prep a step further to raise their scores by a few more points. Coffey, a senior who scored a 31, said she has taken the test a total of eight times since seventh grade.

"I started in seventh grade and just kept going throughout the years, so I was pretty prepared and knew what to expect this time," she said. "I was really excited to make a 31. I've made a 30 a few times, so I was afraid my score wasn't going to go up any more."

Coffey said she thinks getting the higher score will give her access to better scholarships.

Luebbering, a senior who scored a 33, said he attended an individualized ACT practice class in a group of three to four students.

"The instructor, Donna Hill, worked personally with each of us, and I think that helped," he said. "Honestly, I was not feeling well the Saturday I took it, and I didn't think I was going to do anywhere near a 33. I was just super shocked."

Cisco, a senior who scored a 31, said it is exciting to score that high because it means more scholarship opportunities.

"I had a 29 my last time, and I was really hoping for a 30 because that is $500 more a semester on my scholarship," she said. "So when I saw that I got a 31, I was just kind of relieved. I felt like I could breathe again."

McMahan, a sophTomore who scored a 30, and Holtkamp, a freshman who scored a 31, said they plan to take the ACT a few more times before their senior year to raise their scores even higher.

"This was my first time taking the exam. I was hoping to get at least a 28, so I was happy to get a 31," McMahan said. "I want to try to get at least a 32 now."

Holtkamp said he was encouraged to take the ACT for the first time this October after receiving good scores on the practice exams at an ACT prep course this summer.

"I was very happy with my score. I was thinking 'This will get me in some colleges for sure,' " he said.

McMahan said she plans on going to college and possibly going into teaching. Holtkamp said he plans to get his chemistry degree for a pre-pharmacy program and then go to graduate school to get his pharmacy degree.

As for the seniors, they already have their eyes on universities and majors.

Luebbering said he is looking at attending University of Arkansas in Fort Smith for an information technology major with the goal of managing network and computer systems as a career. Cisco said she plans to go to Arkansas Tech University and double major in political science and psychology while minoring in Spanish and anthropology. Coffey said she wants to major in political science at either Vanderbilt University in Nashville or John Brown University in Siloam Springs because of her interest in government and history and plans to attend law school after college. Reyna said she plans on going into a pre-med program and is considering double majoring in psychology and music at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville or Ecclesia College in Springdale. Armer said he wants to major in wildlife biology and is debating between Arkansas Tech University and Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

Berryville high school counselor Tiffaney Atkinson said that any Berryville, Eureka Springs of Green Forest students interested in raising their ACT scores can attend an ACT Boot Camp Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Berryville High School. She said the registration fee is $100 and interested students can call the high school at 870-423-7065 to register for the course or for more information.

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