Twin Peaks

updated 12/04/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/04/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

THE FIRST KNOWN TWINS TO SCORE a perfect 1600 on their SAT exams, Courtney and Chris Salt-house, 17, might be expected to be atypical teens. And they are. Seniors at Chamblee High School in Chamblee, Ga., they don't watch MTV. They don't drink or smoke. Their idea of fun is a sleepover calculus party.

They are not so unusual, though, as to be blasé about their perfect scores, which will be duplicated by only an estimated .05 percent of this year's test takers. "I was definitely surprised," says Courtney, who, like Chris, got all but five of 138 questions on the test correct. (For the first time, the SAT grading system awards 1600s even when some answers are incorrect.)

The twins, who started practicing for the SATs in seventh grade, attribute their success to supportive parents (Timothy, 48, is a psychology professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology; Twila, 48, a homemaker), diligent study habits and nightly reading when they were young. "It wasn't anything that mind blowing," says Courtney. "We weren't reading Dickens or Tolstoy. We liked Curious George and Little Bear books. But it got us in the habit."

Then, too, says Twila, there was "the normal kid stuff," including scouting, soccer and gymnastics. And, like most siblings, Chris and Courtney (she has a 3.94 grade point average compared to her brother's A+ 4.30) are competitive. When Chris earned a perfect 160 (compared to Courtney's 148) on a practice exam last year, he says, "I drove her crazy. She told me I was being arrogant, and I probably was."

The two may split up for college. Chris is applying to MIT, Carnegie-Mellon and Cal Tech, while Courtney is applying to Harvard, Princeton and Rice. "The whole thing about going away to college," she says, "is you don't bring your family with you."

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