Fayyaz Ahamed, a senior at University High School on the Fresno State campus, earned a 2400 on the SAT and a 36 on the ACT on his first try.
Ahamed, 16, said he was surprised by the results, which he received only days apart.
“It was a state of really happy disbelief,” he said.
“My parents were probably more surprised than I was; my dad said he was actually crying when he was at work, and I texted him the results.”
Perfect scores on either test are rare; only 0.03 percent of the 1.7 million students who took the SAT earned a 2400. About 0.08 percent of the 1.9 million students who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.
Ahamed took the tests in June, after two weeks of nonstop preparation using online test services and text books full of practice exams.
“I tried to average around two practice tests a day, and then reviewing and figuring out why I missed a certain question,” he said. “They were all strictly timed so I was simulating the test mindset, and I was making myself more confident for taking the test.”
The senior is used to rigorous studying, maintaining a 4.25 GPA, five Advanced Placement (AP) courses and two Fresno State courses and a lab.
He is also a member of the academic decathlon team, spending about 40 hours per week preparing for competition.
“In previous years, I have participated in science Olympiad or forensic speech team, but academic decathlon was always the one extracurricular activity that really drew me into it,” he said.
“In addition to the education aspect of it, it’s the dedication and the hard work aspect of academic decathlon that makes it really rewarding in the end.”
University High won its fourth Fresno County Academic Decathlon title in six years this past February, and placed first in the Super Quiz event.
Academic decathlon coach and social science teacher Sean Canfield calls Ahamed “pretty amazing.”
“Last year at the county competition, he was the highest scoring University High School student ever,” Canfield said. “He earned 9,000 points, which is just an insane score.” Ahamed also competed at the national competition and finished with the third highest score.
As the period to apply to colleges quickly approaches, Ahamed admits the process is overwhelming, especially with his sights set on direct medical programs.
“The way the college essays are, you have to be able to answer exactly why you want to be in that specific college so that requires a lot of extensive research and knowledge about the school,” he said.
Ahamed’s top choices include a six-year medical program at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a seven-year program at Northwestern University in Illinois. He also lists Harvard, Columbia, UCLA and University of California, Berkeley, as possibilities.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps,” said Ahamed, whose father is an anesthesiologist. “He told me about some of the struggles he had when he was growing up in India, how he worked super hard to come over to the United States and get such a well-respected position here.”
Ahamed’s dad encouraged his son to keep his options open, which has led him to the field of neuroscience.
“Personally, I have an intellectual interest in philosophy and psychology related fields, and because of this, I want to branch into neuroscience and understand more about how the human brain works in terms of figuring out determinism and compatibilism with free will and other kinds of neurological and philosophical ideas.”
(This report was written by University Communications news assistant Erika Denise Castañon.)