Clovis North High School student Neha Pondicherry credits her parents’ support with helping her secure a rare perfect score of 36 on the ACT college preparatory test.
“I would often say that 36 is so unattainable,” said Neha, a 16-year-old junior. “How can I possibly get there?”
Neha became the second Clovis North student this school year to earn a perfect ACT score. In October, junior Spencer Howells also scored a 36. Nationwide, just one-tenth of 1% of ACT test-takers annually ace the test.
Last November, Neha got there when she took the ACT for the first time. And her parents, Nari and Dr. Devi Pondicherry, were quick to point the praise back to their daughter.
“She worked very hard,” said Nari, Neha’s father. “We would prepare study sessions for each section of the test, and she studied them for 15 to 20 minutes each day for three months.”
Nari, a former scientist who now sells real estate, said this consistent approach helped his daughter familiarize herself with the language of the test questions. Neha took one practice ACT test before the final exam.
The family first learned of the perfect score a few weeks ago.
“Neha forgot to mention to us that the test results would release at midnight,” Nari said. “So at about 12:05 a.m., she ran into our bedroom and woke us up to tell us. We were all so excited — we were up until 3 a.m. celebrating.”
Neha is no stranger to a strict, hard-working schedule. In addition to being a straight-A student, she maintains a wealth of extracurricular activities.
Last season, Neha was the symphony master of the Central California Youth Symphony Orchestra, where she plays the violin. She is a varsity tennis player, an officer in several school clubs and a volunteer at Kaiser Permanente, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and Hindu Temple of Fresno.
Neha also scored a 2220 out of 2400 on the SAT college preparatory test. She took SAT preparation courses at Huntington Learning Center in Fresno.
Neha said her younger sister, Ramya,11, is also a model student.
Neha hopes to study medicine at either Stanford or the University of California at San Diego. Her mother, Devi, practices internal medicine at Kaiser Permanente.
“She wants to follow her mother, not her daddy,” Nari said. “But that’s OK. We want to offer her any help we can with whatever she wants to do.”
Neha’s parents said that keeping up with her many activities isn’t difficult. Nari said his personal motto helps the family succeed.
“Do your best,” he said. “Leave the rest to God.”