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Double Trouble? West Twins Score Big on ACT

When Thomas Redding saw his twin, Morgan, got a 35 on the college readiness exam, he knew what he had to do. He had to get a perfect score.

Morgan and Thomas Redding have fun being twins. They have similar interests, they like having someone to debate philosophy with at any given moment. They like to call each other out – holding one another accountable when they are wrong.

But as they are in their senior year at Waukesha West High School, their future is somewhat unknown. The 17-year-old brothers are applying to colleges – some the same and some different – and as the Redding twins plan out the next phase of their life, they realize it might mean they will not be together.

“Our view is it would be nice to go together, but it is probably not what is best for us in terms of personal growth,” Thomas said.

“If Thomas gets accepted to MIT and I get accepted to one of the different colleges on the list, I am not going to prevent Thomas from going,” Morgan said. “Thomas isn’t going to prevent me from going.”

Applying to colleges like the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Washington University and MIT might be a challenge for some. But the Reddings are ambitious.

Fourth Time’s the Charm

The twins took the test several times. They took it in middle school for a talent search and Thomas scored a 23 to Morgan’s 22. And in sophomore year, Thomas’ score of a 32 beat Morgan’s score of 31. But when they took it in their junior year, Morgan outscored Thomas' 34 with his 35. A perfect score is a 36.

“That couldn’t stand,” Thomas said with a laugh.

Thomas didn't want his twin to have a better score after all those years of being ahead. So Thomas took the test for the fourth time – and got a perfect score of 36.

The ACT is a college readiness exam that tests a student’s skills in reading, math, English and science. Morgan and Thomas scored with the top 1 percent of students taking the test throughout the country.

Wisconsin has traditionally been at the top for composite scores. Wisconsin’s average ACT score was tied with Iowa for second-best in the nation at 22.1 earlier this year. Minnesota leads the nation with an average score of 22.8. Waukesha West’s average composite score exceeds the state average at 23.4.

Academic Decathlon Helped With ACT Scores

Morgan and Thomas believe their involvement with West’s academic decathlon team has contributed to their success with the college readiness test. They think the competition helped prepare them for the timed test. The Waukesha West academic decathlon team won state in March.

“To get a high score, it is not just enough to know the material,” Thomas said. “You have to be able to transfer that knowledge to the test. In academic decathlon, we have got more test experience than anyone could ever want.”

The twins have tips for students who are taking the ACT in the future. Students should pace themselves through the test because they won’t have time to double check every answer, Thomas said.

“You have to go just the right speed so you get the maximum number right without finishing too soon and wasting time,” Thomas said.

“It is about building confidence,” Morgan said. “When I take tests in general, I tend to double check myself and that takes a lot of time. The big thing about the ACT is the time constraint. There are a lot of people who say the SAT is significantly, but the ACT’s time constraint is what puts it on par with the SAT.”

The Joy of Being a Twin

Thomas and Morgan find time outside of school and academic decathalon to have fun pursuing outside interests. They both love to program games and Morgan likes to compose music.

“We love just talking about different things,” Thomas said. “Philosophy, math, science, you name it. We talk about it.”

“Except sports,” Morgan chimed in.

“I think the main highlights of being a twin is you can always find someone to talk about anything,” Thomas said.

“To bounce ideas off of and to put you down,” Morgan added.

“There is that kind of honesty,” Thomas said. “If I say something that is stupid, I know you are going to tell me.”

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