Son of immigrants achieves rare feat – earns perfect score on AP calculus test

A Los Angeles High School senior achieved a remarkable feat this week when he became only one of 12 students in the world to have gotten a perfect score on his calculus AP exam.

Cedrick Argueta, 17, whose father is a Salvadoran maintenance worker and mother is Filipina and works as a licensed vocational nurse, was one of 302,531 students to take the grueling three-hour, 15-minute test last May.

Cedrick learned over the summer he had scored a 5 – the top score – on the exam, but had no idea he’d gotten every single question right until last week.

In a letter to Jose Torres, principle of Lincoln High, the College Board, who administers the test, called Argueta’s test results a “remarkable achievement.”

“It’s mind-blowing,” Torres told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s the first time I’ve had something of this magnitude. A lot of kids expected him to be the one.”

Lincoln High is located in a predominantly Latino community in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Cedrick credits his AP Calculus teacher, Anthony Yom, with much of his success.

"From the first day, I knew that Mr. Yom was going to be special,” Cedrick told the Los Angeles Unified School District website. “He wants us to be the best of the best, and the whole class is really good.”

On test day, Yom has students wear matching blue T-shirts sporting their names, “like they’re wearing jerseys to the game,” Yom told the Times.

“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.”

LAUSD reports that in the five years Yom has been teaching AP Calculus at Lincoln High, every one of his students has passed the test. Of the 21 students who took the exam last year, 17 scored a 5 – the equivalent of an A in a college-level class. And 27 of the students in last year’s graduating class earned admission to UCLA. Twenty of the 26 students in Yom’s calculus class this year are girls.

In a letter to principle Torres, Trevor Packer, senior vice president for Advanced Placement and Instruction, wrote, “This outstanding accomplishment is likely a direct reflection on the top-quality education being offered at Abraham Lincoln High School.”

“We applaud Cedrick’s hard work and also the AP teacher responsible for engaging students and enabling them to excel in a college-level course.”

Argueta also earned perfect scores on the science and math sections of the ACT exam last year. This year, he’s taking four more AP exams, including the Calculus BC segment.

He graduates in June and has said he hopes to attend the California Institute of Technology and become an engineer.

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