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El Camino High School graduate Christopher Hong and sophomore William Petersmeyer earned perfect scores on their AP exams. Oceanside High School freshman Leila Kai Hernandez earned a 5, the highest score possible, on the AP Spanish exam as an eighth grader. Courtesy photo.

Oceanside students earn perfect scores on AP exams

OCEANSIDE – Two Oceanside Unified students earned perfect scores and three eighth graders received the highest scores possible on their AP exams across three different subjects last spring.

Advanced Placement, or AP, classes are advanced courses that are equivalent to college classes. Students take AP exams at the end of the course and score on a scale from 1 to 5. Students who score 3 or above can receive college credit for their classes.

Scoring a 5 – the highest score possible – is no small task, and getting a completely perfect score, or answering every single question correctly, is a considerably rare feat.

Christopher Hong graduated from El Camino High School last year and is now studying software engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas. As a high school senior, he was one of six students in the world to receive a perfect score on his AP World History exam, according to the school district.

AP tests generally consist of multiple choice and essay questions. For Hong, multiple choice has never been difficult, however the essays were more of a challenge. Understanding the test’s rubric was the key behind getting the right number of points he needed.

“It’s important to know the rubric really well so you know which points to hit in the essay questions,” he said.

Hong credited his teacher, Scott Wing, for teaching his students how to prepare for the test.

Fellow Wildcat William Petersmeyer, now a sophomore, was a freshman when he earned a perfect score on the AP Computer Science Principles exam. He was one of 459 students worldwide to get that score, according to the district.

Petersmeyer has had an interest in computers since he was a young child. With his previous background in computer science knowledge paired with the class, he was poised to do well.

“If I didn’t take the course, I wouldn’t have got a perfect score,” he said. “I don’t know every single thing, and there were tricky questions on the test.”

He also praised his teacher, Andrea Cascia, for helping him to prepare and to really think about the how test asked questions.

Though he still has a few years of high school left to think about college, Petersmeyer is considering choosing computer science as his major. He is currently an active member of El Camino’s cybersecurity team, which was started just last year, and is hoping to make it to finals this year.

Though AP exams are typically reserved for high school students, a class of eighth graders in the district’s two-way bilingual immersion program got the chance to take the AP Spanish exam in the spring. Most of those students passed the exam, and three students – including Leila Kai Hernandez – scored 5s on their AP Spanish exams.

Now a freshman at Oceanside High School, Hernandez started the bilingual program as a kindergartner. Over the years, she became fluent in Spanish, enabling her to have full conversations with some of her relatives who spoke the language.

She credits the bilingual program for helping her to speak both Spanish and English and intends to use both languages throughout her lifetime and into her future career.

“This program is an underrated, hidden gem, and one of the coolest things our district offers,” she said.

Speaking Spanish also allows her to help students who recently immigrated to the United States and can’t speak English yet.

“I’m blessed I can translate for them,” Hernandez said.

El Camino freshmen Camilla Ramos Rios and Maribel Diaz were the other two then-eighth graders who scored 5s on their exam.

Oceanside Unified is one of the only bilingual programs to offer AP classes to eighth graders, according to Communications Director Donald Bendz. Students begin the program as kindergartners and finish as incoming high school freshmen.

“Two years ago, the first group of students who started the program took the AP exam and most of them passed,” Bendz said. “Last year, most of the students who took the AP exam passed it as well. This means that these students start high school with college credit.”

One student in the first group earned a 5 in 2022, Bendz noted.

Now that she has conquered the AP Spanish exam and finished the bilingual program, Hernandez intends to take AP Spanish Literature, which will require her to read entire books in Spanish.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that scoring 5 on AP exams is considered a perfect score. Scoring a 5 is the highest possible score a student can receive on an AP exam, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that every single answer was correct. Those who receive completely perfect scores also score a 5 on the exam.

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