BATH – Getting the top score on an Advanced Placement exam is cool enough.
But even better? Being told you’re the only high school student in the world to have done so on that particular test.
Balt von Huene of Arrowsic, a senior at Morse High School, did just that last spring.
Of about 4 million AP exams that 1.5 million public high school juniors and seniors took last year, just 285 scored every possible point on an exam, according to a Morse press release last week.
Huene was the world’s only student to earn every possible point on the AP Environmental Science Exam, the school said. He earned the top score of 5, equivalent to an A on a corresponding college class, according to Morse.
“This is an absolutely extraordinary accomplishment,” Eric Varney, Morse’s AP Environmental Science teacher, said in the press release. “As Balt’s teacher, I probably find this accomplishment less surprising than most; Balt is smart, hard-working, and intuitive. However, Balt’s attention to detail and his focus on the truth and accuracy in his work are the characteristics that make him a superior student.”
Varney added that in the nine years he’s taught the course, never has one of his students earned a perfect score.
Huene said in an email Jan. 31 that he learned of his accomplishment in a letter from Trevor Packer, the College Board’s senior vice president in charge of the AP program.
“It’s awesome, I still haven’t gotten over my initial surprise,” he said. “What gets me is how many students out of the 130K that took the exam must have been one or two points away from a perfect score, but just guessed wrong on one multiple choice question. Even in my class at Morse, a number of my classmates got the top score of 5 on the AP 1-5 scale and probably weren’t far off from getting everything right.”
Huene credited his success on the test to his knack for drawing facts from memory and taking standardized exams. He also credited Varney, who he called “one of the best teachers in the building,” noting that Varney was Sagadahoc County’s 2014 teacher of the year.
Varney “set our class up very well, not only with a good working knowledge of the concepts of environmental science, but also with very specific advice on how to attack each section of the AP test itself,” Huene said.
Huene said he was home-schooled when he was younger, which gave him the opportunity to get to know nature, catch frogs, search for snakes and go on forest hikes around Arrowsic.
Asked what advice he’d give to other students aiming for that perfect AP score, Huene recommended they “look over the sections of past tests that have been released, along with their scoring guides. That will give you some idea of the level of detail the scorers are looking for. On the test itself, aggressively eliminate multiple choice options and provide plenty of detail on the free response section. Also, don’t be afraid to answer questions with knowledge from other classes.”
Huene said he has been admitted to the University of Maine at Orono, but is postponing a college decision until he hears from other schools.
Although he’s not currently planning a career in environmental science – Huene is leaning toward English – his interest in the subject continues.
“I certainly believe that environmental science will grow rapidly in relevance over the next few decades, and I see great promise in how it can improve lives globally,” he said. “I also hope that policymakers will begin to pay more attention to its lessons.”