Sigan Chen is in rare company academically.
The 15-year-old junior at Conway High School earned a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT.
Only one student in Arkansas achieved a perfect score in 2011, according to the College Board, a nonprofit organization that publishes the standardized test for college admissions in the U.S.
“Data for the class of 2011 does put in perspective what a rare accomplishment it is to achieve a 2400,” Kate Levin, SAT spokesperson, said Tuesday.
A total of 1,345 students statewide took the SAT in 2011. Nationwide, 1,647,123 students took the SAT in 2011 and 384 achieved a perfect score.
Chen alluded to “luck” as a contributing factor in her score. But Donna Whiting, Gifted and Talented supervisor for Conway schools, said Chen’s score “was a result of hard work by a bright girl.”
“She mentions luck, and certainly that can be a part of it,” Whiting said. “The brightest student can take the test over and over again and not score perfectly, but we adults who work with Sigan were not surprised,” Whiting added: “We were delighted and proud, but not surprised.”
Chen is a student who “does what she should do,” Whiting said, “and she is now reaping the benefits of her work.”
Chen transferred to the Conway School District from Baton Rouge, La., in the seventh grade and was able to skip her eighth-grade year.
Her current schedule is full of advanced placement courses, and her school involvement does not stop when the last bell rings.
She is a member of several academic clubs and participates in track. On Tuesday, she was practicing with her teammates for an upcoming Quiz Bowl tournament.
“Outside of school, I play piano. It is all very time consuming,” said Chen.
She has traditionally spent summers studying with her father to learn Chinese, the language of her birthplace. She moved from Bejing with her parents, Xiaowei and Zhirong Chen, at age 6.
Whiting said her Chinese language skills will surely further her along in her career goals.
Chen said that after she studies economics at either Duke University or the University of Pennsylvania, she plans to teach or serve as a financial advisor for a large international company. Ideally, she said, she will work for a U.S. company that requires representation in China.
Chen said she has always been encouraged by her parents to take advantage of every possibility.
“They’ve told me that I have so much opportunity,” she said. “They remind me of that, of how other Chinese people in America have come to the U.S. with no English, who start by working in restaurants. They work their way up from nothing.”
Whiting said she is unaware of another Conway student achieving a perfect score on the SAT.
“I’ve had students with perfect math or verbal scores, but never a perfect score over all,” said Whiting, who has spent 40 years in education.
SAT was first called Scholastic Aptitude Test, then later named Scholastic Assessment Test. It is now known only as SAT.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)