This story was originally published in Newsday on Oct. 27, 2004.
It seems like the kind of SAT question custom-made for Dillon and Jesse Smith of Long Beach: If one out of every 1,511 students taking the SAT will get a perfect score, what are the odds that twin brothers will both ace the test?
Answer: No one knows for sure. Nevertheless, that's what the Smith twins have done.
Both Dillon and Jesse Smith, 16-year-old fraternal twins, achieved the elusive top score of 1600, a number most high school seniors only dream about seeing on their SAT score report.
"I was very, very happy," said Dillon, describing the moment he realized that both he and his brother received the top score on the aptitude test. "I've been hoping for it since we started."
It was a rare thing to hope for. Of the 1.4 million high school seniors who took the test in 2004, only 939 scored a 1600, according to the College Board, which administers the test.
"It's a very low probability that any one person would get it [a 1600]," said Nancy Mendell, professor of applied math and statistics at Stony Brook University. "And it's even lower that both would."
The boys, seniors at Long Beach High School, are both among the school's top 20 academic achieving students - Jesse ranks No. 3 and Dillon 16. Although the twins say they set high standards for themselves, they don't put pressure on themselves to meet those goals.
In fact, the twins took no SAT preparation courses, studied from borrowed library books and quizzed each other with vocabulary words.
"I don't see the SAT as that big of a deal," Jesse said. "It's a test testing how well you can take a test. I don't think it really says how smart you are."
The boys said the scores don't mean they can go to any college they want.
Dillon plans to major in engineering and will apply to Columbia University, New York University and The Cooper Union.
Jesse, who wants to become an English teacher, said his top four schools are Brown University, Boston University, Wesleyan University and Bates College.
The boys were the only seniors in their high school to get the top score.
"For many of these kids, 1600 is like a dream that would just never happen," said Long Beach High School principal Nicholas Restivo.
The scores did not surprise Diane Smith, the boys' mother. After all, last year Dillon received a 1600 on his PSAT, and earlier this year, Dillon scored a 1520 on the SAT and Jesse received a 1530.
"I expected it," said Smith, 44, a physical education teacher at I.S. 143 in Washington Heights. "They have the potential to do even better - maybe even write the tests [someday]."
Long Beach High School staff say the twins take as many advanced placement courses as they can, including a calculus course that they take on the Internet because the high school does not offer it.
Teacher Harry Witkin, chairman of Long Beach High School's math department, said the boys have an uncanny talent for picking things up very quickly. "They have just such great recognition of things and critical thinking skills; they pick things up quickly, it's amazing," Witkin said. "You rarely have to explain things twice to them."
Added to the boys' smarts are their extracurricular activities. Both belong to the school's debate club, the foreign language honor society and the trivia club. They also volunteer as counselors at an after-school program.
The boys just like being regular students - they listen to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, play video games on their Nintendo Game Cube and read.
Their advice to other students preparing for the test is simple.
"The important part is not getting yourself worked up over the whole idea of it," Jesse said. "It's important, but it's not going to determine your entire future."
Chart: Twice as nice
What could be better than a perfect score on the SAT? Why, two, of course. That accomplishment belongs to fraternal twins Dillon and Jesse Smith of Long Beach, whose achievement may rank alongside those of some other famous twin combinations.
Mario and Aldo Andretti
Both are accomplished race-car drivers. Mario is the only driver to win the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and a Formula 1 championship.
Tiki Barber and Ronde Barber
Tiki is a running back for the New York Giants, Ronde a defensive back for the Buccaneers. Both have played in the Super Bowl.
Paul and Morgan Hamm
In 2000, they became the .rst twins to make the U.S. Olympic gymnastics team. Paul was allaround gold medalist in this summer's Athens Games.
Jeff and Jim Lizzo
In 1995, the Long Islanders became the .rst twins to score 300s - perfect games - in the same bowling league session.
Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen
Made their debut playing one cuddly tot in "Full House" in 1987, but went on to TV movies and their own magazine and clothing line.
Joan Boyd and Jayne Schwartz
("The Doublemint Twins")
Chosen in 1959 to ride bicycle, play tennis and toboggan their way through 12 TV commercials as Wrigley's .rst Doublemint gum twins.
Abigail "Dear Abby" Van Buren and Ann Landers
Advice columnists. Landers, whose real name was Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer, died in 2002.
HOW THEY SCORED
You might be surprised to see how some famous celebrities scored on their SAT exams. (Note: The Educational Testing Service does not make test results public so some results are unverified.)
1600, Microsoft visionary Paul Allen
1590, Microsoft wizard Bill Gates
1530, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh
1355, former Vice President Al Gore
1206, President George W. Bush
1190, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry
1032, former President Bill Clinton
1020, radio host and author Al Franken
SPEAKING OF THE SAT ...
Jennifer Lopez once was asked what she got on her SAT. Her answer: "nail polish."
And Britney Spears might have been a bit confused when she was asked what she scored, "I didn't do well," Spears said. "I think I got a 6." (The lowest possible score is 400.)