Dakota High School senior Donald Gloede, left, celebrated with Principal Paul Sibley after finding out he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT last fall.

Dakota High School senior Donald Gloede, left, celebrated with Principal Paul Sibley after finding out he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT last fall.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Dakota senior scores perfect 36 on ACT

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 7, 2018

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Heading into the ACT, Dakota High School senior Donald Gloede hadn’t taken any practice tests nor done a lot of studying to prepare.

The way Gloede, 17, saw it, he had already taken and done well on the SAT in April of last year and his tough class schedule had him as prepared as he could be for the college prep exam.

Still, when he found out in in October that he scored a perfect 36 on the test, he couldn’t help but tear up.

“I knew when I took the test I did pretty well, but I did not expect it all and started crying on my way to school,” Gloede said. “It really surprised me.”

Gloede said he found out about his perfect score in an email on the way to school. The first thing he did was visit Principal Paul Sibley, who he said he is close with, to share the news.

Sibley said it was a great moment as he gave Gloede a hug, and, as is common in this day and age, took a selfie to brag about him on social media.

“I have been fortunate enough to establish a nice relationship with Donnie, who is a remarkable young man,” Sibley said. “As smart as he is, that only tells a small portion of who he is as a person. He is the most likeable, down-to-earth young man I have met in my career.

“I know he will do remarkable things in his career. He is a model kid, that as a principal, you want to see in your school because he makes the school a better place.”

A composite score of 36 on the ACT does not mean Gloede got every question correct, as students are not penalized for guessing, and only correct answers count towards the score. 

According to ACT data, only one tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a composite score of 36. In the 2017 graduating class, only 2,760 students out of more than two million graduates who took the ACT earned a perfect score.

The test consists of portions in English, math, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1-36. An optional writing test is also available, but reported separately from the composite score.

Before taking the SAT in April, Gloede said he took a pre-SAT test and did well. He ended up with a score of 1470 on that exam, out of a top composite score of 1600. His performance earned him a nomination for the National Merit Scholarship.

Gloede said he felt his work in the classroom and performance on the SAT set him up for success on the ACT.

“I have taken a really rigorous course schedule up to this point in high school,” he said. “I have great teachers who have taught me great test-taking skills and all the content that helped me on the test.”

Going into the test, Gloede said he knew each section was timed, but it really caught up to him in the reading section. He said he spent too much time reading through the passages and he was working right up to the alarm.

For others that take the tests, Gloede said his No. 1 piece of advice would be to be confident and don’t linger too much on one question or passage.

“I tell my friends to give their best answer the first time and then come back if there is time,” Gloede said. “I had done a lot of research into what sort of questions there would be and what to expect, but the time restraint really does apply. Be confident when you pick an answer and stick with it. There is no reason to second guess yourself.”

Gloede has been nominated as a U.S. Presidential Scholar and received a regional Gold Key award for his photography portfolio from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

After graduation, Gloede said his goal is to attend the University of Michigan and study environmental science. He is hoping to hear about his acceptance status this semester, as well as hear back from Harvard and Princeton universities.

Gloede has already been accepted to the honors college at Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

“For the longest time I was dead set on being a science teacher in high school,” he said. “I still think I’m interested in that, but I have been thinking more about going into environmental policy and entering politics.”