Utah student earns perfect ACT score but rejected by MIT and BYU

Apr 25, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: May 15, 2024, 12:53 pm

People walk through the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024....

People walk through the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Davis High senior earns a perfect ACT score but wasn’t accepted by the school of his choice.

About 1.4 million students nationwide take the ACT but just 0.25% (1/400) of all test takers earned a perfect 36 score, according to PrepScholar.

FairTest reports almost 2,000 colleges in the U.S. no longer require test scores for admission applications. That list includes other Utah universities like BYU, Utah State University and University of Utah.

Schools say no to applications but not why

But why was Trenton Caldwell rejected by both MIT and BYU? But because both schools didn’t say, he may never know.

“It’s pretty frustrating because I really feel like if I knew what it was, I would be able to fix it lickety-split, but it’s just impossible really because I have no idea,” said Trenton.

He said he knew the odds of being accepted to MIT were a long shot.

“I think it’s like 6% or something crazy like that. But BYU was a shocker for me,” he said. “I had no idea. I still have no idea actually — like what went wrong on my application, if anything went wrong, or if the stars didn’t align.”

Later, Steve Robinson, senior associate vice president for Enrollment Management at the University of Utah,  joins KSL NewsRadio to discuss why the university has made testing requirements for admission optional.

Perfect ACT score is not enough

 “I was almost ready to be disappointed if he didn’t have a full ride scholarship. So the fact that he didn’t even get in was just completely shocking,” said Trenton’s mother Jami about her son’s admission rejections to MIT and BYU. 

She added that she stressed academics with her older children and made Trenton quit his job so he could focus on schoolwork, which included seven Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

But with her youngest child, she said she’s trying a different academic tack.

“With my youngest, I just decided it clearly didn’t matter. And so I am not going to push you to do that. Let’s take an easier load. It didn’t matter.”

Test scores optional at U.

Robinson with the U. of U. said the university chose to make standardized tests optional for students.

“There are some students that really excel at testing. There are others that don’t excel necessarily in a four-hour examination. So we want students who did want us to know their scores to have that opportunity to present those to us,” he said. “We also just had students who — they didn’t want to share that [and] that was OK as well.”

Robinson said the U. of U. became test optional during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the school stayed test optional afterward because at the U. a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) is a better indicator of post-enrollment academic success than standardized tests, such as ACT and SAT.

“That varies from campus to campus obviously based on the applicant pool. But what we’re seeing consistently over the last four years is that’s been the case here at the University of Utah.”


University of Utah indefinitely pauses SAT and ACT admissions requirements

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Education + Schools

Utah Education Association President Renée Pinkney speaks at a press conference near the Matheson ...

Eric Cabrera

Utah teachers union files lawsuit against scholarship/voucher program

The Utah Education Association says the Utah Education Fits All scholarship is unconstitutional.

2 hours ago

Rare earth minerals...

Don Brinkerhoff

Rare earth minerals found in Utah, Colorado, are critical for cleaner energy sources

Rare earth minerals have been found in Utah and Colorado mines according to University of Utah researchers.

1 day ago

food is sorted, kids more open to food insecurity during summer months...

Britt Johnson

Summertime leaves kids vulnerable to food insecurity

The president of the Utah Food Bank said kids who rely on school breakfast and lunch will face food insecurity this summer.

2 days ago

Photo courtesy of Getty Images...

Curt Gresseth

Liberal arts education is a good choice for students, says professor

Education in the liberal arts is trending down in the US, but a University of Pennsylvania professor argues for pursuing liberal arts.

4 days ago

students walk on the U of U campus,...

Aimee Cobabe

University of Utah changes policy on tuition coverage for student employees

The University of Utah is changing its policy on covering tuition costs for employees. Not everyone is pleased with this change.

5 days ago

Gardens grown at the Utah State Correctional Facility...

Heather Peterson

New department prepares inmates for life after prison

A new prison program aims to help inmates gain work skills and training to to be successful for life after prison.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

Utah student earns perfect ACT score but rejected by MIT and BYU