Katie Hughes, a junior and scholar athlete at Immaculate Heart High School, has earned the highest possible composite score of 36 on the ACT, the leading U.S. admissions test that determines academic readiness for college.

While the actual number of students earning the top score varies nationally from year to year, on average less than 0.1 percent of students who take the ACT earn the top score. Among test takers in the high school graduating class of 2015, only 1,598 of more than 1.92 million students earned an ACT composite score of 36.

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science. Each test is scored on a scale of 1-36, and a student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

Hughes, 16, said she was “extremely shocked” when she learned about her top score, especially since this was her first time tackling the ACT test.

“I actually found out in the middle of my track practice,” she said. “I opened the email on my phone and when I saw it, my body just started shaking. I didn’t know how to react. I knew that I felt really good on test day, but I definitely wasn’t expecting this!”

The student, the daughter of James Hughes and Brenda Rees of Eagle Rock, excels in honors and AP classes at Immaculate Heart, and also participates in sports — a feat that has earned her the distinction as an IH scholar athlete. Hughes has competed on Immaculate Heart’s track and cross-country teams since her freshman year.

Last fall, she served as captain of the IH Varsity Cross-Country Team, which clinched the Sunshine League Championship for the third straight year. Hughes was named to the Sunshine League’s 1st Team All-League and advanced with other top IH runners to the CIF-Southern Section Finals.

Additionally, Hughes, who is a graduate of St. Philip the Apostle School in Pasadena, regularly volunteers in her community through a variety of service efforts. For the past two years, she has picked fruit for Food Forward, the organization that donates food to needy people by recovering excess fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.

“The biggest way I juggle school, sports and other extracurricular activities is to just keep a positive attitude,” Hughes said. “I try my best to stay optimistic and not stress out, especially when things get hard.”

Although she still has lots of time to ponder colleges and a path of study, Hughes said she feels she would enjoy a major in the math or science field.