By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald
A pair of Harker Heights High School seniors found different paths to testing perfection this year and both plan to take their academic skills to the medical field.
Kim Lacey scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test. After graduating near the top of her high school class this June, she plans to attend Bowdoin College in Maine to study neuroscience.
Sydney Garcia scored a perfect 800 on the critical reading part of the SAT and after graduating near the top of the Heights class plans to attend Baylor University en route to medical school.
Garcia said it was her consistent reading routine that prepared her to ace the portion of the college-entrance test that measures reading comprehension.
She logged a 2310 composite score, with a 780 on the writing and a 730 on the math.
After completing the SAT for the second time, Garcia said, "I felt good about it. I really didn't prepare for it."
Soft-spoken and hesitant to overstate her considerable accomplishments, the daughter of John and Elaine Garcia said she has always read a lot, remembering her parents pulling her away from books the way some parents pull their children away from computer games.
She is also a National Merit Scholar, captain of the school's color guard and took courses at the Texas Bioscience Institute.
Along with her superior literary skills, Garcia became interested in the biosciences to the degree that she decided to pursue medicine as a career.
She said the secret to her success wasn't really a secret, just a lot of reading and taking practice tests prior to the real test.
Lacey also took the SAT twice and improved her score the second time when she achieved a 2200 composite score.
The outstanding student's achievement is more noteworthy considering she spent her childhood in Korea and didn't move to the United States until four years ago. At that time she didn't speak any English.
Math was always natural for her, she said, explaining that the Korean schools prepared her well for math.
The writing section of the SAT, she said, was a challenge. She practiced reading and writing to improve her score.
The first time she took the test, she said, "I made a few mistakes. I think I was nervous."
The second time, she said, "I could see the pattern in the math test. I thought I probably made a perfect score on the math test."
At Harker Heights High School, Lacey was the captain of the UIL math team. She was also involved in Project Linus, which makes blankets for traumatized children. She also took courses at TBI, including calculus and statistics.
For those preparing for the SAT or similar tests, she said practice helps.
"Once you find the pattern, it's important to practice," she said. "You should time yourself like you're taking the real test. You should also review basic math like algebra that you might have forgotten."