- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - When Maanasa Narayanamoorthy was born premature, all her mother wanted was for her to have a normal life. Years later, the 16-year-old not only granted her mother’s wish, but she also accomplished a rare feat: Perfect scores on the SAT and ACT exams.

It is unclear how many people earn perfect scores on both. Neither the ACT nor College Board, which administers the SAT, track that data. Additionally, Narayanamoorthy had no expectations that she would land a 1600 on the SAT and a 36 on the ACT. She believes the achievement was sheer luck.

However, she admits some practice was involved beforehand.

“I prepped more for the SAT than the ACT, but a lot of credit has to go to my teachers,” Narayanamoorthy said. The daughter of Tulane accounting professors Ganapathi “Gans” Narayanamoorthy and Anupama Varadharajan was sitting in the living room of her Uptown residence Sept. 16, as she described taking “five or six” practice tests for the SAT a month before the real deal in January.

The Benjamin Franklin High Senior also took several online practice tests, which helped her by showing her where she needed to improve. A month would pass before she learned her score in February. Her mother, Anupama Varadharajan, said she was up to check the scores at 4:30 a.m., although Narayanamoorthy argues it was actually 4 a.m.

“I said ‘Oh my God,’ and I woke up my husband and said ‘1600,” said Varadharajan. “I ran and I woke her up and said ‘Maansasa, 1600!”

“My reaction was very anticlimactic cause it was 4 in the morning,” Narayanamoorthy said. “I said, ‘Thanks, Mom. Let me go back to bed now.’ It didn’t really sink in until later.”

Narayanamoorthy was nonetheless relieved to have a perfect score, and she assumed she would not need to take the ACT given her SAT results. However, Louisiana requires high school students take the ACT. Fortunately for Narayanamoorthy, her English teacher throughout the year had her class take prep tests.

Narayanamoorthy took the ACT in March, and she learned about her results in April. She admits she assumed that her results were mixed up with someone else’s. Nonetheless, she is grateful to have been given “a combination of events” that resulted in her scores.

“I just think I was lucky on that day to have a great testing day, and I’ve been fortunate with my teachers and everybody who’s helped me,” she said. “I was fortunate that I had a break right before I took the SAT.”

So what advice does Narayanamoorthy offer to test takers? “You have to find the testing strategy that works best for you,” she said. For her, that involves practice tests and looking over what she needs to fix, but a lot of her friends benefited from prep classes or from asking other people for help.

However, she also stressed, “there’s no set way to compare yourself to someone else.”

“What I try to do is explore as much as I can, find out what works for me and what I like doing,” she said.

With perfect scores secured for college applications, Narayanamoorthy is now focusing on other aspects of life. Although she has yet to choose a university or a major, she admits one of her options is to “ditch college and open a bakery.” That might sound surreal, but Narayanamoorthy is already the owner of an online cupcake business that features its goods on Instagram.

In fact, 2017 has been a year of “self-discovery” for the young violinist, who spent the summer in Berlin thanks to the American Association of German Teachers. When she isn’t writing her semifinalist essay for the National Merit Scholarship Program, Narayanamoorthy likes to practice her music. On weekends she volunteers for Make Music NOLA and works the phones for LaToya Cantrell’s mayoral campaign.

“Mom has been very good about teaching me to take life as it comes. She told me about learning about it for herself and I had a lot of those problems, especially when I was trying to juggle a whole bunch of activities,” she said.

Narayanamoorthy’s activities at Ben Franklin include Quiz Bowl, Mu Alpha Theta, Academic Games, and the Young Musicians club. She also enjoys drawing and ceramics, but she admits she is not good at either hobby.

“Try as hard as you can, but you can’t do everything and that’s OK that you can’t do everything,” she said. “You’re going to fall in some places, and you just need to take some time to get back up.”

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide