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Immigrants' Son Is 1 Of 12 Students Worldwide To Ace AP Calculus Exam

More than 300,000 students took the Advanced Placement calculus exam last year. Only 12 earned perfect scores.
Jae C. Hong
More than 300,000 students took the Advanced Placement calculus exam last year. Only 12 earned perfect scores.

What's 12 divided by 302, 532?

It comes out to 0.00003967 or 0.003967 percent. That's the percentage of students in the entire world who took the test and earned a perfect score on the infamously difficult college-level Advanced Placement calculus exam last year.

Cedrick Argueta, the son of a Salvadoran maintenance worker and a Filipina nurse, was in that tiny fraction of perfection, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the self-described, quiet 17-year-old senior at Lincoln High — a school of about 1,200 students in the heavily Latino Lincoln Heights neighborhood in Los Angeles — called the news "crazy."

"Twelve people in the whole world to do this and I was one of them? It's amazing," he told the Times.

Though Argueta found out over the summer that he had achieved the highest score, a 5, on the three-hour and 15-minute test, he only found out about his perfect score last week when the College Board sent a letter to the school's principal.

"It's mind-blowing," said Principal Jose Torres to the Times. "It's the first time I've had something of this magnitude. A lot of kids expected him to be the one."

Since learning of his perfect score, the math whiz has been fêted by his school during an assembly and cheered by his classmates — all of whom passed the AP calculus exam. He's also been busy doing interviews with the press.

In an interview with KTLA-TV, his parents said they were proud of their son's accomplishments.

"It's amazing," his mother said. "We know he's that smart. Ever since in elementary, he always wins those competitions."

Argueta said talent is a big part of doing well, but "hard work definitely trumps that." He said he spent hours every day after school studying with his math teacher Mr. Yom and his classmates.

Next, Argueta hopes to attend Caltech to study engineering. His parents hope a scholarship will help make that possible.

"I work two jobs ... to get by," his mother said. "So scholarship would really help us."

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