A Barbourville resident has done what very few students will ever do: achieve a perfect score on the ACT (American College Testing) exam.

ACT- Sarah Pedersen

Sarah Pedersen

Sarah Pedersen, daughter of Dr. Paul and Anne Pedersen of Barbourville, scored a composite 36, which according to the ACT National Office, ranks Pedersen within about two-tenths of 1% of all test takers. In a letter from ACT, among high school graduates of the class of 2018, 3,741 students out of over 1.9 million have earned a perfect score.

Pedersen is a student at Corbin High School, and recently decided to attend Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University.


Letter from ACT National Office

When asked what it meant to have achieved the perfect ACT score, she said “When I first opened my ACT Portal to check my score, I was in shock. I never expected to get a 36, and I am honestly still surprised. I am definitely proud of myself, but the score should be attributed to my amazing teachers & family who have helped me get to this point.”

Pedersen credits her family for the success she’s achieved. “There is no way I could have accomplished this without my parents & older sisters,” she said. “They encouraged me to start taking the ACT very early-on through the Duke TIP Program in 7th Grade, and they have always supported my academic decisions, most recently being my decision to attend the Gatton Academy at WKU. Taking a rigorous math course load & reading (especially outside of school) definitely helped too!”

Pedersen’s parents, Paul and Anne, shared “While we are surprised and pleased by the results of her ACT, we are even more proud of her efforts in her every day studies and overall pursuits of excellence!”

Enrolling at the Gatton Academy will enable Pedersen to get a jumpstart on college. Her plans beyond that are ambitious, but not unattainable for someone who brings such academic prowess to the table.

“I currently attend the Gatton Academy, which is a program where I take university courses at WKU while in my junior/senior years of high school,” Pedersen shared. “However, I will be applying to many undergraduate programs next autumn. I do not yet know where I want to go, but I am very excited! I plan on going somewhere to major in Biomedical Engineering & minoring in Chinese. Beyond that, I would like to eventually pursue a Ph.D.”

Pedersen says she plans on pursuing a career in biomedical engineering. “I would like to mainly focus on the connections between Mathematics and Medicine, as they are two major passions of mine,” she continued. “I would like to use math to contribute to the development of medical technologies that have real-world implications.”

Pedersen shared some tips for her fellow students looking to take the ACT:

  • Always take practice tests under real ACT timing conditions (especially Reading and Science)
  • Heavily familiarize yourself with the ins-and-outs of your calculator
  • You can’t cram the night before. The best way is to take practice tests in the weeks beforehand, and then give yourself a break before & get some rest.

The ACT National Center’s letter congratulating Pedersen went on to say, “Your exceptional scores will provide any college or university with ample evidence of your readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.”

Charles is a native of Barbourville, Kentucky. He has worked with The Mountain Advocate in various capacities since 2003.

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