Mercer Island High School teacher Kim Schjelderup said that 95 percent of her students receive a 5 on their Advanced Placement (AP) calculus tests. But an Island student had never earned a perfect score before this year, when senior Adam Tucker aced not one, but two, of the exams.
Tucker, who took three AP tests in April and is currently enrolled in five AP courses, achieved a rare distinction by earning perfect scores on both his calculus and microeconomics tests.
According to the College Board, Tucker is one of three students in the United States to get 100 percent on two AP exams.
Only 18 students worldwide out of more than 309,000 earned a perfect score on the AP Calculus AB exam, and just 75 students worldwide out of over 82,000 earned a perfect score on the AP Microeconomics exam.
He gives a lot of the credit for his success to Schjelderup, his teacher in both subjects. Of his current class schedule, which includes AP Calculus BC, AP Macroeconomics, AP Spanish, AP Chemistry and AP Literature, Tucker said calculus is his favorite.
“[Schjelderup] makes it fun and engaging,” he said. “In previous years, math was just another class I had to take. But she understands how students learn best, and keeps the class lively.”
In a Mercer Island School District statement, Schjelderup said she was proud of the accomplishments of Tucker, an “amazing and humble individual.”
“Adam views all classes in a holistic manner and will share his understanding or ask questions with anyone who is willing to learn,” she said. “He is driven by learning and curiosity and dedicated to his family, friends and education.”
As far as advice for taking AP classes and studying for the tests, Tucker said it’s important to take practice exams. They help students prepare not only for the material on the test, but for the format of the test itself. Some of the ins and outs can trip you up, and it’s a thin line between missing even one question and getting a perfect score, Tucker said.
He also said that feeling comfortable in class and not hesitating to ask questions if he had trouble understanding a concept was helpful. AP classes are intellectually challenging, but can be stressful, Tucker said. Of the perpetual learning versus testing debate, Tucker said there’s some merit to the argument that students spend too much instruction time taking exams, but that they’re helpful to assess how students are doing.
“Learning is more important, because that’s what’s going to make you successful in your career,” he said. “But the reality is that we live in a world where you have to be able to show your learning.”
Tucker, who hasn’t decided on a college yet, said he plans to major in chemistry and have a career in scientific or medical research.
Tucker is the son of Ellen Heineman and Eben Tucker of Mercer Island. He is involved in many activities at the high school. He serves as senior class president, plays trumpet in the marching band and is a member of the Islanders’ boys swimming team. He is also an Eagle Scout, and volunteers at the Jewish Family Service food bank and as an SAT tutor, and with Seattle Music Partners helping elementary students in music.
“What a tribute to Adam, his teachers and his parents,” Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano stated. “I an immensely proud of him and look forward to the contributions he will make to his community.”