Making the grade; Seventh grader scores among best on SAT

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, May 30, 2018
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In a classroom full of high school students taking the SAT, Bridgeport Middle School seventh grader Molly Johanson was an anomaly.

She wasn’t too intimidated, though.

“It was sort of nerve wracking, but I’ve taken a lot of tests that were above grade level,” Johanson said. “I just tell myself, ‘I’m going to do well on this; I’m going to do well on this.'”

And she did. Johanson, who took the SAT early as part of the Duke University Talent Identification Program for gifted students, placed in the 93rd percentile of the 59,000 students who took the test as part of the program. She was recognized at Texas A&M Friday for earning one of the highest scores among seventh graders in the state.

According to a press release from Duke TIP, the program identifies seventh grade students from across the country who score at or above the 95th percentile on their grade-level standardized tests and encourages them to take college entrance exams, the SAT and ACT, to determine their strengths.

Competing in UIL math and science prepared her for the high-school level questions on the SAT. But Johanson has wider interests than just science, technology, engineering and math, as she’s also an artist.

Johanson has a lot of time before she needs to apply to college. Her top choices are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University.

“If you’re smart, everyone says, ‘go to MIT,” Johanson said. “NYU is my own personal indulgence because it has pretty good academics and pretty good art programs.”

To get into MIT or NYU, she’ll need high scores on the SAT or ACT, and she already has some practice under her belt. This year, Johanson was only 50 points off from reaching the 95th percentile among her age group on the SAT.

“Fifty points difference isn’t really all that much,” she said.

Johanson hopes high scores now will lead to even higher scores later, when she takes the exams to get into college.

“A lot of the students choose to do it for practice so they can become National Merit Scholars,” she said. “I’m most likely going to keep doing it next year because if I have the option I might as well practice. I may take the ACT, though.”

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