Son of maintenance worker gets a perfect score in AP Calculus exam, 1 in 12 to do so

Lincoln Heights Teenager Gets A Perfect Score of 5 In AP Calculus Exam

Cedrick Argueta, a senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in Lincoln Heights, was one of only 12 students in the world to earn a perfect score of 5 on the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus Exam.

Advanced Placement tests are scored on scale of 1 to 5, with a score of 5 indicating that a student is “extremely well qualified” to do the work of an introductory-level course in that subject at college, according to College Board, the organization that manages the exams.

Of the 302,532 students who had given the notoriously mind-crushing test, Cedrick, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, was one of the 12 to earn every single point.

According to a news release from the Los Angeles Unified School District, the AP Calculus exam tests the fundamental theories of calculus in a series of multiple-choice and free-response problems.

“It’s crazy,” Cedrick said. “Twelve people in the whole world to do this and I was one of them? It’s amazing.”

After the news of this feat spread, the teenager who describes himself as a quiet, humble guy become something of a celebrity at Abraham Lincoln High School, a public school in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles that caters to 1,300 students. The majority of students at Lincoln High are low-income, and 20 percent are English-language learners.

When Principal Jose Torres announced his score at a school assembly, students shouted, “Ced-rick! Ced-rick!” Friends started calling him “One of Twelve.”

Torres also laughingly mentioned that he might as well become Cedrick’s booking agent displaying a typed schedule of the teen’s media interviews.

“It’s mind-blowing,” said Torres, who has worked within LAUSD for 31 years. “It’s the first time I’ve had something of this magnitude. A lot of kids expected him to be the one.”

Cedrick and his classmates took the AP Calculus exam, a 3-hour and 15-minute test managed by the non-profit College Board for possible college credit, in May.

He learned over the summer that he had scored a 5, the top score on the exam. However, until last, he had no idea he had scored every single question by providing the right answer.

In a letter to Torres last week, the College Board called it a “remarkable achievement.”

Cedrick is unassuming say math experts. He likes to play basketball with his buddies, and his favorite reading of late was the Harry Potter series. He donned a blue LHS hoodie and sneakers after he got to know that he was going to do television interviews this week.

Math has always just made sense to him, he said. He appreciates the creativity of it, the different methods you can take to solve a problem.

“There’s also some beauty in it being absolute,” Cedrick said. “There’s always a right answer.”

Cedrick just thanked everybody else in his life when asked about his perfect exam score.

“It just sort of blew up,” he said. “It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way.”

Cedrick is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults – she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes. Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes. He never went to high school.

Pausing during one of her shifts this week, Lilian said her son’s achievement is still sinking in. On receiving the news, Cedric texted his mother regarding the exam results, who told him it was great. However, she did not understand the enormousness until reporters started calling.

Lilian said that she always told Cedrick and his younger sister to finish their homework and to “read, read, read,” but that they knew she’d be proud of them whether or not they got straight A’s.

“I’m just thankful,” she said. “God gave me two perfect kids.”

The Arguetas took Cedrick to Roy’s, his favorite restaurant in Pasadena to celebrate the feat, where he ordered a big pork shank. He was still excited about the free soufflé the waiters brought him after learning his score.

On Wednesday, Cedrick hung out in the classroom of his calculus teacher, Anthony Yom, which is decked out with signs that say “Mathlife” and a picture of Homer Simpson.

All 21 of Yom’s AP Calculus students who took the exam last year passed; 17 got the highest score of 5. It was the third year in a row that all of Yom’s kids passed the test.

Yom, 35, said he treats his students like a sports team. They would stay after school, practicing problem solving for three or four extra hours, and they would come on weekends. Cedric prepared extensively for the test, spending several extra hours with his teacher, Yom, to perfect his skills.

On test day, his students wore matching blue T-shirts sporting their names, “like they’re wearing jerseys to the game,” Yom said.

“I think they don’t want to disappoint each other,” Yom said. “Talent can only take you so far. These kids put in so many hours.”

Yom said he knew most of his kids would score 5s, but even he was blown away by Cedrick’s perfect exam. He said that the odds of such a thing are like winning the lottery.

As if that weren’t enough, Cedrick is currently taking four AP courses this year, including the Calculus BC segment. He has also earned perfect scores on the English and math sections of the ACT college entrance exam. Friends are pushing him for a repeat perfect performance.

“There’s a lot of pressure,” he said, laughing.

Cedrick graduates in June and hopes to attend Caltech and become an engineer. A scholarship would be a godsend for his family. CBS News reports that Argueta plans to apply to the California Institute of Technology, University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University and would eventually like to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Cedrick’s has got huge future plans to “design something really cool” with his name on it so that he famous all over the world.

However, he just wants to hang out with his friends this summer.

Source: LA Times

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Kavita Iyer
Kavita Iyer
An individual, optimist, homemaker, foodie, a die hard cricket fan and most importantly one who believes in Being Human!!!


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