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North Hills

North Allegheny students earn perfect ACT scores

| Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
William Cheong and Luke Turkovich, both 17, earned perfect scores on the ACT exam.
William Cheong and Luke Turkovich, both 17, earned perfect scores on the ACT exam.

North Allegheny seniors William Cheong and Luke Turkovich have been friends and classmates for many years. Each is quick to describe the other as a perfectionist.

They are both right, if their ACT scores are any indication.

Both Cheong and Turkovich, each 17, of McCandless, have earned perfect scores of 36 on the ACT, a college entrance exam that consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science.

On average, only one-tenth of one percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score.

What is Cheong’s and Turkovich’s secret?

“I took the test three times,” said Turkovich, whose lowest score came the first time he took the test. That score was 33.

He did not study for the test or enroll in any test preparatory classes.

“My prep was simply taking the test over and over again,” he said.

“My dad told me I’d better have a perfect score after taking it so many times. I was just glad to know I wouldn’t ever have to take it again.”

Turkovich admits he always has had a gift for taking standardized tests like the ACT.

He scored 1,570 out of a possible 1,600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and qualified as a semifinalist in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by scoring in the approximate top one-percent on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT).

“There’s a lot of luck involved,” he said.

His resume, however, suggests that his success comes from a lot of hard work, too.

His grade-point average is 4.5, and he plays on three varsity sports teams at NA, including ice hockey, cross country, and track and field. He also is a leader for TigerThon, NA’s major fundraising event to benefit pediatric cancer, and participates in Project Water, NA’s effort to provide clean water wells in Africa.

Other extra-curricular activities include DECA, a student marketing club; Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD); and the National Honor Society.

Turkovich is applying to the University of Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Georgia Tech, and Harvard. He plans to major in engineering or computer science.

Cheong said he was “honestly surprised” to find out he achieved a perfect ACT score.

“I got the e-mail at 1 a.m. and ran to wake up my parents,” he said.

“They wanted to celebrate a lot. They wanted to take me out to dinner everywhere.”

Cheong, who also has a 4.5 GPA, plays the clarinet in NA’s marching band and is a member of the school’s science club, speech and debate team, and National Honor Society.

He also is active in Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and HOSA, a club for future health professionals. He plans to study chemistry on a pre-med track at Princeton, Notre Dame, Northwestern University or the University of Pittsburgh.

Both Cheong and Turkovich remain humble about their latest achievement, and offer some advice for those preparing to take the ACT.

“If you don’t do well the first time, take it again. It gets easier the more you do it,” Turkovich said.

Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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