He’s too modest to call himself a genius, but such a title is befitting of anyone who can earn a perfect score on an AP exam.
And that’s what happened to junior Daniel Shim, whose result on the May 2018 AP Computer Science A test showed he “[earned] every point possible,” according to a March College Board letter sent to Shim and to principal Allen Whitten.
“To be honest, I was a little upset to see that [the announcement] was late,” said Shim, who also took the AP Statistics and scored a 5, along with the AP Calculus BC exam in which he scored a 4. “However, when I saw the letter, I was like ‘OK, cool’ because for me, it wasn’t super important, so I wasn’t happy or mad.”
The College Board owns, writes and distributes all AP tests to schools that offer them to their students.
In the letter addressed to Shim, College Board’s Trevor Packer, senior vice president of AP and instruction, writes. “You not only received the top score of 5 but were one of only 193 students (amounting to just 0.295 of 2018 AP Computer Science A Exam takers) from around the world to earn every point possible on this difficult assessment,”
The exam entails of two sections of the test and begins with 40 multiple choice questions to be answered in one hour and 30 minutes. Questions topics include programming fundamentals, data structures, logic, algorithms and problem solving, object-oriented programming, recursion and software engineering.
Students are then given a four-question free response portion in one hour and 30 minutes, testing their abilities to solve problems involving more extended reasoning.
“I was pretty confident after the test, but I didn’t think I got a perfect score with no mistakes because I am not perfect,” Shim said. “I could have easily missed something because of my overconfidence.”
Sunny Hills counselor Kathleen De La Rosa said in her 12 years as AP coordinator on campus, she is not aware of anyone else who has earned every point possible on an AP test.
“There may have been other students who have earned ‘every point possible,’ but we may have not been notified by [College Board] or the other [past SH] principals may have not announced it to the staff,” De La Rosa wrote in an email. “The letters go directly to the principal, not the AP Coordinators. So I guess it’s safe to say that this is the first ‘every point possible’ student that I have been made aware of.”
According to College Board, Shim was among 66,000 AP Computer Science A Exam takers worldwide in 2018; the 193 perfect test-takers was an increase from the 112 who reached perfection on the same exam in 2017.
Though Shim has chosen to keep quiet about his perfect deed (as of Thursday, he has only told his father), Shim’s family received a personal phone call from Whitten a few days after the delivery of his letter, congratulating Shim for his performance.
With his studying tactic of going to Barnes & Noble to look at the Barron’s AP Computer Science A study book for free, Shim said AP Computer Science teacher Myra Deister also had a role in pushing him toward the right path to his AP success.
“I remember that in her class, I had to be on top of all the work,” he said. “She went over it well enough so that I could start looking at it on my own and understand what’s going on because she was able to [set the foundation].”
Deister said she was surprised to have learned about Shim’s accomplishment.
“[Shim] was mature and definitely one of the best students in my class, but hearing this, I was shocked because I don’t ever hear of perfect scores for AP exams at our school,” she said.
Now with his confidence in computer science, Shim said he plans to major in that area when he applies to colleges this coming fall.
“I think he’s very capable of majoring [in] computer science, and it would be a good area for him to pursue,” Deister said. “I could tell that [Shim] was so into this class because he was always willing to share with the class and help his fellow classmates in the class, too.”
After his exceptional achievement, she is proud to see that her student has earned an impeccable score.
“[Shim] had studied very hard for this exam, and I am enlightened to see what is ahead of him for the future,” Deister said. “All I have to say to him is, ‘Congratulations for achieving such a high score on the exam.’”