NAT 230106 Lara Devi Saigal CE004-1673933918942
Dubai based 12-year-old girl Lara Devi who scores 1400 in SAT test says that she loves taking exams. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: A 12-year-old girl from Dubai has earned high marks in a US aptitude test, thus qualifying her to join a top Ivy League university at such a tender age.

Lara, a resident of the UAE, scored 1400 in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) out of a possible 1600. Scoring anywhere between 1200 and 1600 on the SAT is considered a good score for earning merit-based scholarships.

The higher the score, the more scholarship offers you can potentially win. SAT is usually administered to university-bound 18-year-olds, who are tested on their reading, writing and math skills.

Lara, who took the SAT in December, is happy about her achievement.

“I have just received my results,” said Lara, whose performance in the verbal and quantitative sections levelled with the 98th percentile of advanced Grade 8 performance.

Though still under age, Johns Hopkins University invited Devi to sit the SAT, and was granted a special permission by the US College Board to sit for the exam.

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Ready for university at age 12

Given her SAT score, Lara is effectively ready to join a US university. She has previously gained entry into Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) pool, a designation awarded to exceptionally-gifted children at the Johns Hopkins’ Centre for Talented Youth (CTY).

Students who achieve the SET designation get access to grade-appropriate online and on-campus courses, as well as support services (webinars, workshops, resources, etc) which are only available to other students in the CTY community.

Parents not ready

Her parents told Gulf News, however, they aren’t ready yet to send her to university.

Her father Rajiv Saigal, who works in the oil and gas industry in Dubai added he and his wife Dr. Rachna would not let their daughter join a university just yet.

“She is studying in a top girls’ school in the UK. We would like her to finish her schooling,” said Saigal.

How she prepared for SAT

Lara, whose favourite subjects are Maths and Computer Science, said it took her a month to prepare for the SAT exams. “I did several past examination papers.”

Her mother Dr. Rachna said Devi self-learnt for the SAT exams.

“We printed previous exam papers for her to practice. But the preparation was completely done by her. She is a self-taught and self-motivated child.” Devi said: “I love taking examinations.”

At age 10, she already sat her GCSE in Mathematics and received an A*. She also sat her GCSE in Statistics and Computer Science, receiving an A and A* grade, respectively. These examinations are usually sat by children at the age of 16, or older.

Happy child

Her mother said Lara gathers her accolades in the most relaxed manner. “She is a happy child. She is not a geek or a book worm. As for her future, it is for her to decide what she wants to do. We as parents are here to support whatever it is that she wants to pursue.”

Accolades galore

In 2014, at the age of 4, Lara was awarded membership of MENSA, the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world founded in 1946.

“It is a non-profit organisation open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardised, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test.) She has an IQ of 170,” said her father Rajiv.


A year later, the KHDA recognised her academic excellence and Devi was accelerated by a year. Lara also enjoys extra curricular activities like sailing, horse riding, public speaking, and roller skating among others.