Earning a perfect result in any endeavor is a challenging feat and something to be celebrated. Advanced Placement (AP) exams are notoriously difficult, and students last year were presented with the additional challenge of mastering the curriculum in a virtual environment. Nevertheless, three Westwood students received a perfect score on their 2021 AP exams. Not only did they receive a five on the grading scale of one to five, but they also earned every point possible on each portion of the exam. These students were part of a select category; only 356 students worldwide accomplished the same feat.
“AP courses and exams are college-level, requiring great focus and persistence among participating students,” Trevor Packer, head of the Advanced Placement Program, said. “We applaud the educators who encourage students to challenge themselves, who motivate and encourage diverse students to achieve their academic potential.”
The three students – Jyotsna Arunkumar ‘23, Aneesh Vanguri ‘23, and one who chose to remain anonymous – all earned a perfect score on the AP Computer Science A exam. Earlier this spring, 63,980 students worldwide took this exam, and College Board estimated that around 25 percent of students earned a five. However, less than one percent of students earned all 80 of the possible points on both the multiple-choice and free-response sections.
“Last year, there was a much bigger focus on being able to read code, solve questions, and do it all in a really short time limit,” Vanguri said. “Learning to work under that kind of high-pressure environment sucked, but it’s probably what got me the perfect score.”
Teachers also faced a demanding task in trying to teach their students through the barrier of a screen. The computer science teachers were thrilled to hear their students had excelled in the exam and their work had paid off.
“I was pretty much writing lesson plans at night and then teaching them in the morning, so it was a lot of work,” computer science teacher Carlos Vasquez said. “I was very happy about [the scores] and glad to hear that they did well.”
It is incredible to see how students triumphed even with the obstacle of virtual learning last year. This year, many of the exams will transition back to a paper and in-person format, similar to how they were prior to the pandemic. Now that students are back at school, the dedication they show as they work towards success in their AP classes will be inspiring to experience.