Trang Truong is happy to remind anyone asking that a test score is just a snapshot, a single moment in time, and not representative of him as a person or a student. Still, when the Burnsville High School junior found out he earned a perfect score on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), the meaning was not lost on him.
“It didn’t sink in until later in the day,” he said about learning he scored a perfect 1520. “But then you realize how big it is and the opportunities it provides.”
The opportunities are significant indeed. On the surface, the result shows he’s well on his way to being prepared for college. But just as important, the test can qualify him for the National Merit Scholarship program, which can provide as much as a full-ride scholarship depending on which college he might attend.
Trang says he spent some time preparing for the test by using Khan Academy resources and practice tests, but not too much. However, Trang said he found the test demanded more in terms of his being able to think and analyze, rather than whether he had memorized facts and formulas, and that helped him feel more confident.
But the perfect score doesn’t mean the test went perfectly. About 25 questions into the first section, Trang looked back and realized his answer sheet didn’t line up with where he was on the test. He ended up having to erase and re-mark everything back to the seventh question.
“I thought ‘Well that’s a bad omen,’” Trang said. “I was worried about time but tried to stay calm and ended up making it through.”
Chuck Croatt, Trang’s math teacher and advisor in Math League, calls Trang a sponge for information.
“He is genuinely interested in learning as a means to better himself and also just out of general curiosity,” Croatt said. “He knows a lot of facts, but he also wants to know why things happen and how things work.”
At Burnsville High School, Trang is involved in band, Quiz Bowl and Math League, and he volunteers through PALS at his former elementary school, Gideon Pond.
Trang will find out if he is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist next fall. In order to become a finalist and be in position to earn a scholarship, Trang will also need to perform well on the SAT test and submit other documentation.