Jefferson Baker scored a perfect 36 on his ACT and is keeping options open for college.

Jefferson Baker, a senior at Martha Lane Collins High School, scored a

perfect 36 on his ACT. While the feat itself is impressive, it is even more astounding when you consider the rarity of this accomplishment.

Rare feat

In November 2022, the professional test preparation and tutoring company, Rath Education Group, reported that on average, roughly 0.33% of all student nationwide receive a perfect score. This means that only an average of roughly 4,500 students get a perfect score from the approximately 1.5 million ACT exams administered each year. When asked if he knew the true rarity of his accomplishment, Baker was surprised.

“I was aware it was a low percentage, but wasn’t exactly sure of total,” said Jefferson Baker. “That’s kind of crazy when you think about it.”

Practice makes perfect

Baker didn’t go onto the exam blindly; he had taken the exam twice previously and had completed a number of practice exams.

“I’d taken it a few times,” said Baker. “I took it in seventh grade and got a 30. Then I took it again during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year and scored a 33. I think many people look through the content to see what to study, but I found it more helpful to take a lot of practice tests at school and those offered in the ACT exam preparation book. I think this gave me a better idea of the areas I really needed to work on and study.”

No surprise

Considering he had performed so well on previous exams at a younger age, he was only slightly surprised by his perfect score this time around.

“Sure, I was a little

surprised, but I always believed that on the right day, I could make a perfect score,” stated Baker. “In all the practice exams I had taken before, my highest score had been a 34, so I knew I could do well, but I wasn’t expecting a 36.”

School work

Baker isn’t only a high performer on the ACT, he is also an exceptional student, according to his GPA. His weighted GPA is a 4.3 thanks to his dual credit high school/college courses.

“I took dual credit courses in economics and music my junior year, and philosophy and public speaking my senior year,” said Baker. “I felt it was important to work on my English and communication skills before going to college. I think English is my weakest subject. Not really grammar, but written essays are a struggle, so I thought public speaking would help.

“Also, many college English classes have 100 or more students in them, so it can be hard to get one-on-one time with the professor. I thought it would be helpful to know what I can do on my own, so I was prepared to work more independently in classes of that size.”


Baker is already eligible for automatic merit scholarships available at Kentucky schools and roughly $2,400 a semester from the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program if he attends a state school. At the moment, he is still undecided on the specific college to attend in the fall. His final decision will be determined mostly by availability of scholarships.

“I don’t really have a preference on whether it is an in-state or out-of-state school. I just don’t want to have to worry about debt or taking out a bunch of student loans. So, wherever I can receive the most scholarship assistance is where I am most keen to go,” he said.

College visits

Baker has visited a number of schools and has liked them all, but for him, one campus stood out.

“In the fall, I went to Baltimore on a campus tour of Johns Hopkins University,” said Baker. “I really liked their campus and they thoroughly explained their financial process. So if I could get in there, it would likely be my dream school.”

He has visited other schools.

“I recently traveled to New York and took a train to visit Princeton. I toured the University of Louisville recently on a school field trip. I‘ve also been to the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University and I’ll be touring the University of Virginia within the next two weeks. My mom went to UVA, so I really want to check it out.”


His long-term goal is to work in scientific research. He really wants to work in a lab, so he guesses he’ll likely end up working in chemistry or medical research.

“Over the summer I am doing an internship at the Brown Cancer Center in Louisville,” Baker said. “It is a research internship where I will be working with a mentor to research something they are working on. At the end of the program, I will get to present a report on the research topic.”


When asked who had influenced him most throughout his young life, he said his middle school history teacher and of course, his parents.

“My history teacher from middle school, Matt Denton (who now works at MLCHS), was my academic coach and teacher for all three years of middle school,” Baker said. “I learned a lot from him. He helped me with learning history. He didn’t just teach what came out of the text books. He had a different way of teaching. He knew history and explained it well. He helped me learn to study, especially for academic team. That has really stuck with me.

“My dad, Dave Baker, works at Fish & Wildlife. He is their information manager and editor for their publication, Kentucky Afield. He went to the University of Kentucky and also got a lot of money because of his ACT score. He lived in Paris at the time, so he was able to live off campus. And my mom, Ann Gibson, works as a copy editor for Norton (Healthcare). She is originally from South Carolina and majored in English at UVA.”

Baker said that his parents always encouraged him to work hard and they show commitment to his success. And according to him, his dad always said, “If you start something you finish it.”

“Even though I am not going into the same fields as them, my parents encourage me to pursue whatever dream I want,” said Baker. “They help me see my potential. They really push me to be more than what I believe I can be, which is good because you never want to get complacent.”

Off time

In his spare time, Baker likes to play music, specifically the saxophone, which he has been playing since the third grade. He said he hasn’t played any concerts, but he has played for a few nursing homes. He also likes to drive. He got a driver’s permit eight months ago and recently upgraded to his unrestricted permit. Additionally, he said he occasionally likes to fish.

“Over the summer, we went to South Carolina and went out on a boat in the bay,” said Baker. “We caught a lot of fish, mostly red fish and sharks. My dad even caught a few rays. We had a good time.”

While Baker may not know yet were he wants to attend school, he is confident that he will make a college decision that is best for him and his future. He knows that his perfect ACT will help him make his educational dreams a reality, thanks to the numerous scholarship offers an accomplishment as rare as his provides.