Seventeen-year-old Cedrick Argueta recently learned he’s one of twelve youngsters in the world to have earned perfect scores on the Advanced Placement AB Calculus exam. His entire calculus class, from Abraham Lincoln High inside Los Angeles Unified School District, passed the notoriously challenging test.
“While I think talent is a big part of doing well, hard work definitely trumps that,” the senior told local TV news station KTLA-5, noting that he and his classmates spent two to three hours a night studying for the exam in the weeks leading to it.
Lincoln High has only three white students and is approximately three-quarters Hispanic, according to federal data, and 85 percent of its students are eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch, a proxy for low family income.
Argueta’s father is a maintenance worker at a local convalescent home, and his mother is a nurse who works two jobs. They were elated to learn of Cedrick’s achievement, they told KTLA-5. At the same time Cedrick took the test, 302,532 other students worldwide did, too. That places his score in the top 0.004 percent of all test-takers.
“Cedrick’s ultimate goal is to study at Caltech and one day work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” KTLA-5 reported. His parents hope Cedrick’s achievement will help him earn a scholarship to study engineering on the way there.
“I work two jobs just to get by, so [a] scholarship will really help us,” his mother said.