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S.A.T.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- What are the secrets to success on the SAT? Tim McGinnis, a senior at Providence Day School, and Rachel Myrick, a junior at Myers Park High, should know. Tim earned a perfect 2400 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is an im...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- What are the secrets to success on the SAT?

Tim McGinnis, a senior at Providence Day School, and Rachel Myrick, a junior at Myers Park High, should know.

Tim earned a perfect 2400 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, which is an important part of what colleges consider when deciding who to admit and who to turn away.

Rachel scored 2390 -- about as close to perfect as it gets, considering SAT scores are given in increments of 10.

So we asked Tim, 18, and Rachel, 17 -- both straight-A students -- to reveal the secrets behind their high scores.

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Study well for your high school classes, they said. And assess your strengths and weaknesses before sitting down for the more than four-hour test.

Neither took SAT prep courses or worked with tutors to get ready. In fact, Tim felt advice he got in a prep course for the preliminary PSAT test actually backfired for him.

"I did a little worse on the PSAT," he said, the second time he took it. That's because Tim followed the instructor's advice to leave questions blank if he couldn't make an educated guess.

"That strategy is not for you," his older brother said, even though it could help students in lower score ranges. So, when Tim took the SAT in January, he answered every question -- and was rewarded with perfection.

He also made sure to relax the night before with a movie, some meditation and a good night's sleep.

When the test began, this student who wants to be a philosopher put his personal philosophy to practice.

"Instead of using part of your mental energies worrying about the score that could occur," he said, "use that potential energy to answer the questions."

Rachel took the SAT twice -- and used what she learned the first time to get a better score in March.

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To improve on the part where students answer questions on reading passages, she bought a book devoted to that section of the test.

While SAT scores are important, admissions officials say they're only part of what it takes to get into college.

Good grades and extracurricular activities also are key, Dave Meredith of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's admissions office said.

Tim and Rachel score high in those areas too.

Rachel, daughter of Patty and Tom Myrick of Charlotte, studies in a rigorous International Baccalaureate program. She also runs track and is an officer in the school's IB Council and Amnesty International chapter.

She writes for the student newspaper and is a teen movie critic for the Charlotte Observer, as well as a contributor to the paper's Young Voices.

Tim, son of Lee Ann and Barry McGinnis of Charlotte, founded his school's Transcendentalist Club and writes for the student newspaper. He also runs cross-country, plays lacrosse and competes on the school's WorldQuest global trivia team.

Neither has decided on a college yet, but they're clear on one thing: It's a relief not to have to take the SAT again.

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