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Mooney student aces ACT with perfect score

September 26, 2018
The Town Crier

On Sept. 18 it was announced that Cardinal Mooney High School senior Matthew Rossi had accomplished an academic trifecta of sorts. It began when he was named a National Merit Semifinalist by scoring a 1490 out of a possible 1520 on his PSAT. In addition, Rossi received a perfect ACT Composite score of 36. Considering these outstanding accomplishments and Rossi's current GPA of 4.653, it is not unfounded that he is looking toward Stanford or the University of Notre Dame to further his studies next year, majoring in biochemical engineering.

As a National Merit Semifinalist, Rossi is in contention for one of 7,500 National Merit Scholarships. Taking into account his ACT score (that is earned by only one-tenth of 1 percent of the more than 2 million students that take the exam annually), his impressive GPA, and the fact he maintains a full extracurricular and athletic schedule, and one could ask just how he does it all. He serves as CMHS Soccer Captain, Co-President of Interact Club, member of the Tennis Team, Academic Challenge, Service Club, Gardening Club, Theatre Department and Debate Team member, along with his service as a school music minister. He has lettered in soccer, tennis, and academics.

When asked to what he credits his perfect ACT score, he said it all goes back to his parents, Becky Distad and Atty. Gregg Rossi of Poland and Youngstown, respectively, and a good start in life early.

Article Photos

Matthew Rossi

"I am most definitely not the only person that deserves credit for my success on the ACT," he said. "The biggest thank you has to go to my parents. I could read at age 4 simply because my parents began reading to me as soon as I could sit up. By developing my reading comprehension, they set me up to absorb information easily in all subjects. I wouldn't be here without them. In addition, there is no doubt in my mind that my schooling at Cardinal Mooney has set me up for success. The Mooney family is such an incredibly supportive community that very badly wants to see its students succeed."

As for how he is able to balance his time, Rossi said Mooney has a lot to do with that.

"There are a couple things that really help me," he said. "First, I enjoy both my classes and the activities I partake in. Consequently I don't find much difficulty motivating myself to get my homework done, even after an exhausting soccer practice. However, regardless of my level of motivation, there are only so many hours in a day. I think the biggest enabler for me is Mooney's block scheduling. With only four classes, the homework load is never excessive and 90 minute classes give me the time to get my homework done during school. I might have been assigned homework in AP Chemistry, AP Physics, and AP Calculus, but I'll come home with only some calculus left to do."

He said studying for the ACT isn't really about memorization of information. He has a specific study habit that works well and it involves taking sparse notes in class.

"I think a lot of students find themselves coming out of a lesson from a teacher and not really knowing what was just taught," he said. "Some students spend so much time taking notes that they aren't really listening to and thinking about what their teacher is saying; they just write it down. Then, they go back and study those notes, but if they missed something that the teacher said, they're screwed. My advice would be this: learn as much as possible in class; ask lots of questions, really think about what the teacher is saying, connect it to things you already know, and take sparser notes."

"The ACT can be a real beast," he continued. "It needs to be taken down over time. The best advice I can give is 'early and often.' Take the test as many times as you can. Even if you don't score better every time, you get better at taking it with each attempt. As for starting early, my mom does ACT practice problems with her students at Holy Family (she's a substitute teacher there). She had me take the ACT my freshman year, which gave me an edge over my peers. I've found that the best way to study is to take practice tests and go over the answers you missed."

One other area in Rossi's life carries a level of importance and that involves the community. Rossi loves to give back and said it is important.

"My Catholic education has helped me realize the many reasons that make serving your community incredibly important," he said. "First, reciprocity. Your community shapes who you are. It's only right that you give back. Further, if you make your community a better place, it's better for the people who live there, including you. Second, talents are meant to be shared. For example, I'm blessed to be able to play the piano and sing; it seems only natural that I share that with others to brighten their day. Not only do I feel that I have an obligation to do so; I find it very fulfilling. Working in the community is fulfilling, builds character, and can help you create quality relationships with the people around you."



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