By M. Scott Morris
MOOREVILLE – Before staying up late to see 2013 become 2014, Will Pate had a practice run.
He also was awake when Dec. 29 became Dec. 30. The results of his most recent ACT test were posted at midnight. It was a happy moment because Pate hit ACT perfection with a 36.
“This has been my goal for a long time, probably before I got into high school, probably since my older brother started taking it,” said Pate, a 17-year-old senior at Mooreville High School.
He got the 36 after six tries that included two 30s, one 32 and two 34s.
After the first attempt, his parents bought him a study book. Later, he took an ACT study course at the Learning Skills Center in Tupelo.
“Will treated this like preparing for a marathon,” said Lynn McAlpin, who taught the course with Bonnie Webb. “He took home tons of extra practice. He worked on practice tests in his spare time. If he didn’t know the answer to a question, he would go to his teachers at Mooreville or he would come to Bonnie and me.”
Pate said Debbie Jones, his geometry and physics teacher, and Lisa Tally, his algebra-1 and calculus teacher, were especially helpful.
His parents, Mike and Nita Pate, did their part, too.
“They paid for me to take it six times,” he said.
His drive for perfection might not affect most scholarships, where a 34 is nearly as good as a 36. But Pate said the score and the persistence it represents might help him when applying for highly competitive scholarships.
For anyone looking for a shortcut to a perfect score, the only answer is to know the material because the ACT is a curriculum-based test.
Pate plays piano and trumpet, and sings with the school choir. His current plan is to major in music education at the University of Mississippi.
“But I want to stay open,” he said. “I still have a few months to make a decision, so if something else comes up, I’m not going to be dead-set.”