Santa Monica High School senior Trent A. Nelson earned a composite score of 36, the highest mark achievable, on a recent ACT test.

In an average year the number of students who achieve a top score is about one-tenth of 1 percent, according to officials with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

Of the graduating class of 2010, only 588 of 1.6 million students nationally received a composite score of 36.

The test is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 and is broken down into four sections — English, mathematics, reading and science — added together to make the final composite grade.

According to ACT CEO Jon Whitmore, test scores, from the ACT or its counterpart the SAT, are used as part of the criteria when college’s make admissions decisions.

“Trent’s initiative to purposefully prepare for the ACT —not just through his regular school work, but on his own as well — is an example of what exemplary learners do,” said Samohi Principal Laurel Fretz. “Trent’s teachers are so proud of him and we are all eager to see him achieve great things in the future.”

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