Indiana Teen Only AP Calculus Student In World To Ace Test

Meet 2 students who earned perfect score on AP calculus exam
Meet 2 students who earned perfect score on AP calculus exam

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Indiana Teen Only AP Calculus Student In World To Ace Test

Junior Felix Zhang didn’t miss a single one of the 108 questions on the AP calculus exam. No other student in the world can say that.

Felix Zhang, a junior at Penn High School in Mishawaka, Indiana, was the only student in the world to answer all 108 questions correctly on his advanced placement calculus exam. He told reporters Friday he expected to do well but was still surprised.

MISHAWAKA, IN — To say Felix Zhang is smart is a world-class understatement.

The Penn High School junior was the only student in the world to answer every question correctly on his advanced placement beginning calculus exam.

About 270,000 students took the exam, and Zhang was among the top 20 percent of students who received “perfect” 5 ratings, the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. said in a news release.

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But only Zhang answered all 108 questions correctly.

“I felt pretty confident knowing that I knew what to do on the test, but there was always a chance I would make a small error or something,” Zhang told reporters at a news conference at his high school Friday.

Find out what’s happening in South Bendwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

“So I wasn’t really expecting to see a perfect score,” he said. “And that was pretty surprising to me because I felt like, there’s a lot of other people out there who probably perform very well on this test, and I’m pretty surprised that no one else got a perfect score.”

The student’s achievement “is likely a direct reflection of the top-quality education being offered at Penn High School,” Trevor Packer, who heads the advanced placement program for the College Board, said in an email to high school principal Sean Galiher. “We applaud Felix’s hard work and the AP teacher responsible for engaging students and enabling them to excel in a college-level course.”

His teacher is Denise White, a 30-year veteran of the profession who has taught AP calculus at Penn High School for four years. More than half of her students, including Zhang, got perfect 5 scores on their exams, White told reporters.

A high school AP calculus class is essentially the same first-year calculus class university students take. Galiher said Zhang and his classmates’ scores aren’t a happy coincidence.

“There’s a lot of strategies that teachers can put in place to help students learn,” he told reporters, “But when you have kids scoring at a five, you know that the curriculum is intentional, it’s focused, the kids are engaged and there is a collaborative environment.”

The school puts great emphasis on AP classes to set students up for success in college — which in part means finishing their undergraduate degrees in four years, Galiher said.

“If we can expose them at the high school level and help them experience the rigor and college and be successful, we know they’re going to be successful when they leave our wall,” he said.

Zhang, who took the AP exam last spring, is taking another advanced calculus class this year. White again is his teacher.

“I love the students. I think that’s why I do it. I call them my kids because now I have a daughter that just graduated and she’s away at college. And so they have sort of fill that gap for me,” she said.

Both of Zhang’s parents teach math at the university level, his mother at Indiana University South Bend, and his father at the University of Notre Dame.

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