A pair of aces: Spokane brothers both earn perfect scores on the ACT

brothers playing chess
Credit KXLY 4 News Now

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane County family ended 2019 with some exciting news.

Ari Nordhagen recently learned one of her sons earned a perfect score on his ACT. But that’s only half the story.

About two million students take this nationwide standardized test each year. Achieving the coveted perfect score of a 36 on the ACT is rare. The testing agency has estimated that only about 0.195% of test takers earn a perfect score.

So it’s easy to understand why Ari and her husband were so excited to find out their son Andrew Nordhagen reached that elite status. The Gonzaga Prep High School Junior got a perfect score when he took the test for the first time. Just days before taking the December test, he learned he also scored perfectly on the PSAT.

It’s an incredible feat. But even more impressive is when two brothers from the same family do it.

That’s right, both Andrew and his big brother scored a 36 on the ACT. They just did it a few years apart.

Jakob Nordhagen, now a freshman at Stanford University, also recorded a perfect ACT when he was still a junior at Gonzaga Prep.

“Since my older brother got a perfect score when he took it, I thought it would be cool to do the same,” Andrew said.

Ari said there is no true secret to their success.

“What we encourage in our children is set a goal for yourself, work hard toward that goal the result is a result of your hard work and not anything else,” Ari said.

It did involve long hours of studying practice questions, both scholars will admit to that.

“There was definitely a lot of work involved,” Jakob said.

The family also credited an early education at a Montessori school for helping encourage a positive attitude for learning.

“In Montessori school, there’s no grades. There’s no testing, so we never developed a sort of adverse attitude toward school,” Jakob said. “We never really developed test anxiety or anything like that. We came into high school with a fresh slate, just open minded and ready to learn.”

The Nordhagens know that not all lessons come from a book and each person isn’t defined by a test. That’s why the young men play soccer, are part of service groups, and help out on their family farm.

“One of the things I tell them, the scores are just numbers on a piece of paper. What matters more is that you are good human beings who are responsible and care for other people,” Ari said.

Lessons like that start at home. That’s also where Jakob, Andrew and their two little brothers have learned to love each other and push one another to their achieve more.

“I didn’t quite get a perfect score on the SAT. I want him to,” Jakob said.

Two of the people in this photo got a perfect score on the ACT. I'll give you a hint, it wasn't me. (Although I did do…

Posted by Ariana Lake on Tuesday, December 31, 2019