This holiday season, Issaquah High senior Karthik Palaniappan can throw that adage about a taboo party topic out the window! As one of only four students worldwide to earn a perfect score on last spring’s Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. Government and Politics Exam, he is an expert on the subject.
“I definitely have a passion for politics, which is why I did not mind putting in the work,” Palaniappan said. “I really enjoyed the class, especially our daily discussions of current news.”
Palaniappan explained that a “huge reason” he remembered so much of the content was because of the way his teacher, Jeremy Ritzer, put all the concepts in context of real and relevant events.
AP exams are based on a composite score of 1 to 5, where 5 is equivalent to an A grade in the corresponding college course. By earning the top score of 5, Palaniappan already fell into an elite category earned by only 15.5 percent of test takers in spring 2012. By answering every multiple-choice question correctly and getting full points on each essay, Palaniappan did what only four out of 239,513 test takers were able to achieve on the U.S. Government and Politics Exam.
AP exams are written and scored by college professors from around the world and are designed to cover a full year of intensive, college-level knowledge and skills, so it is very rare for a high school student to earn every point possible—characterized by the College Board’s AP Program as “an extraordinary academic achievement.” In 2012, students took 3.7 million AP exams and there were only 88 perfect scores.
“We are so proud of Karthik,” said Issaquah High Principal Paula Phelps. “This is a testament not only to his personal passion and work ethic but also to the rigor of our Social Studies Department.”
Palaniappan has also been an officer of his school’s Junior State of America (JSA) chapter, a political awareness and civic engagement club.