An incoming senior at Houston Academy recently joined his identical twin brother in earning perfect marks on the ACT, the most nationally recognized college entry exam.
Hayes Edwards made a perfect 36 only months after his twin, David Edwards, accomplished the same goal.
“When he got a 36, and I got a 35, I studied hard,” Hayes said. “That wasn’t the main motivation, it was kind of a secondary thing, but it was still good to get the same score.”
The ACT score is one of two national standardized tests accepted by all colleges and universities in the United States. It consists of tests in math, science, reading, and English, each scored 1-36. The composite score is made up of an average of all four subject tests.
“Only around two-tenths of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score,” stated a press release from ACT. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2018, only 3,741 out of 1.9 million students scored a perfect 36.
The twins starting taking the official test together in grade 7. That year, their father said the boys already scored higher than he ever had. A young Hayes and David Edwards were honored as part of Duke University’s Talent Identification Program, a nonprofit dedicated to serving academically gifted and talented youth.
“We always knew they were very smart, but after those ACT scores – it really opened our eyes to what they could do,” William Edwards said of his oldest children.
Both boys have taken the test many times since middle school, leapfrogging when it came to getting the highest score. The twins admitted it made them a bit competitive.
“I think individually, they would have been self-motivated,” William Edwards said. “I think having each other there helped. I think they have achieved more than they would have on their own.”
Aside from being “crazy smart,” both boys are accomplished in athletics and band as well, William said. Hayes is a member of the back-to-back state champs on the varsity tennis team and serves as band captain in the high school band, for which he plays the trumpet and keyboard.
He is a member of the National Honor Society, which completes community service projects. He also takes on a heavy load of Advanced Placement courses every year.
Hayes said he scored a 35 twice before, and felt confident he could get one more point. To study, he scoured notes from several years’ math courses and his AP Chemistry class, which he said helped immensely with the science portion of the test.
When asked what he credited his success to, he said: “God-given talent, knowledge, hard work throughout school and probably reading a lot when I was a kid. I think that helped a lot.”
Hayes hopes the score will earn him consideration for appointment from the Air Force Academy.
For others taking the test, Hayes offered some advice: “Make sure you know how much time you have. A strategy I use that I don’t think a lot of people do, is to circle the answers in the test and go back and fill them in on the Scantron. Try hard. Do your homework. Go for it, and be confident.”
As for raising the pair, their father said their natural inclinations made it easy for them.
“I’ve never had to ask either one of them to do homework or study for a test at all,” William said. “I’m proud of them. Getting the results they wanted didn’t necessarily come easy. They had to see where they were deficient, and work to make that up.”
William Edwards added that he is confident that his two well-rounded boys can do most anything.
“I think they have a bright future ahead of them,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any limit to what they can do.”