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Davis student one of 12 in the world to get perfect AP exam score | News

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Davis student one of 12 in the world to get perfect AP exam score


When Matthew Cheung walked into his AP Calculus AB exam room last May, he was confident. He was one of the top students in his class and had just aced the class final, which is based off the AP exam.

The 18-year-old wasn't surprised when he got his score back: a 5, the highest score one can receive on the exam.

But, what he didn't see coming was that he would be 1 of 12 students in the world to get a perfect score.

Matthew didn't even find out about what he had accomplished until more than 7 months later, when the Davis Senior High School Principal received a letter from the College Board and posted it on Instagram.

Matthew isn't big on social media. He actually found out about his accomplishment from his friends and teammates.

"They were kind of [jokingly] teasing me about it, calling me a 5.0," Matthew explained. 

That's because Matthew isn't just a smart kid in class. He's also a leader outside of the classroom: he's on the school basketball team and was also soccer captain last fall.

When asked how he excels in so many things, his answer: balance and discipline.

"It's hard to manage my homework load and sports...the best thing I've done is always finish my homework while I'm at school," Matthew explained. "So if that means having to stay at school up until practice or just doing it in class, that's always been the most sufficient way."

He also says he's motivated to succeed at Davis Senior High School.

"All the kids here push each other to compete in school and sports," Matthew said.

Davis High offers 21 AP classes. Through school parcel taxes, Davis is able to offer more options and smaller classes for APs and electives.

So, we've heard of students getting perfect scores on the SAT. Just last month, a Modesto High School student scored a 2400 on the college entrance exam. But what exactly does it mean to get a perfect score on an AP Calculus Exam?

In order to get a top score of 5 on the test, students need to answer 63 percent of the test correctly. That's usually equivalent to a “D” on your report card. So, you can only imagine what it would mean to get 100 percent of the questions right.

Of the 302,532 students who took the AP Calculus exam last May, only 12 students got a perfect score like Matthew. That would mean their chances of getting that score only comes out to about 0.003967 percent.

Of the 12 students, 4 of them are in California schools and another 6 are in other U.S. states. The last 2 are students out of the country, who are required to take College Board exams to study in the U.S.

College Board tells ABC10 that the successful California scores could be attributed to the state's growing push for STEM. The agency has seen a 23 percent increase in students signing up for AP STEM courses in the last 3 years. That includes AP Calculus, AP Computer Science, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics.

Matthew says he doesn't know where his math skills come from. His father is a physical therapist. His mother is a health care program manager.

"My mom's entire side of the family isn't even good at math," Matthew said with a chuckle. "It comes naturally. I always liked puzzles and games growing up. I kind of see math as that."

It took a while for Matthew to own up to math being his best subject, but with a perfect AP score under his belt, a n ear perfect SAT score also (he scored a 2380), and over 100% in his current AP Calculus BC class, this Senior is ready for the big league.


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