BEMIDJI — There’s a good chance Bemidji High School junior Kenneth Anttila is smarter than you. Even if that’s not the case, he’s almost certainly more driven than you. And at the very least, he’s definitely more organized than you.
The 16-year-old student made a mark for himself this past October when he achieved a perfect score on his SAT, a standardized test used in college admissions. That was no small feat to accomplish.
According to College Board, the organization that administers the standardized test, there were more than 2.2 million people who took the SAT test in 2019. Of that number, only 7 percent earned a score that was between 1,400 to 1,600. The highest possible score someone can get is 1,600.
“I probably screamed an expletive,” Anttila said about the moment he learned his score.
Antilla began preparing for the ACT, another standardized test used in college admissions, in June. However, he learned taking the SAT could help him gain the National Merit Scholarship.
Intelligent though he may be, Anttila didn’t leave anything up to chance. Leading up to the test, he consumed any and all preparation material he could. Practice tests. Study tips. He went through it all.
By the time he came around to the actual test, he’d prepared himself so much that it just seemed like another day in his home pouring over the prep work.
As a general rule, Anttila throws himself full force at all his goals. He’s read more than 250 books over the past 13 months, he said. Those have amounted to some 30 million words. He knows because he keeps track.
“Whatever I try to do, I try to make it fulfill two things,” Anttila said.
The first thing is to try to match the difficulty of the challenge to his skill level so he’s completely engaged in the task. The second is to do things that advance him toward his long term goals.
Although he’s still in the process of completing his high school degree, he’s already studying full time at Bemidji State. As part of that, he's researching for an independent study about how geological findings in the 1800s affected theological thought.
He’s also not a big fan of wasting time. He tries to keep track of most everything he does throughout the day.
"It helps you realize what you're spending your time with," Anttila said.
Anttila has his sights set on becoming a professor. Until then, he’s focused on what he needs to do to propel himself toward that end. He keeps a spreadsheet that has a color coded “goal hierarchy.” Green means its a future goal. Yellow is something he can do right now. Blue means it’s something he’s already accomplished.
In addition to writing down his goals, he tries to keep track of why he wrote them in the first place.
"If you actually put (down) why you're doing them, then it creates a sort of meaning . . . and it gives you drive," Anttila said.