There are hundreds of thousands of high school students in New York, but a majority of them do not take Advanced Placement courses and exams. There are even fewer students who take and pass multiple AP Exams. And there is only one male who is named State AP Scholar each year.
For 2013, that person is Valley Stream South High School graduate Michael Yang. The award is granted to one male and one female student in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia with scores of 3 or higher on the greatest number of AP exams and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP exams taken. The exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5.
From 2011 to 2013, his sophomore year through senior year of high school, Yang took 17 AP exams, and scored a perfect 5 on 15 of them. Yang, who graduated in June and is currently a freshman at Cornell University, found out he won the award in July while he was in Europe with his youth orchestra.
He was not expecting the award, Yang said, and figured that there had to be another male student in the state who took and scored better on more AP Exams. “It was a nice surprise,” he said.
Of the 17 AP exams he took, he self-taught himself for five, meaning that he did not take the course that accompanied the test. Yang said since any student can register for an AP exam, regardless of their schedule, he decided to take the World History exam as a sophomore based on what he learned as a freshman. He scored a perfect 5.
He went on to self-teach himself for four other AP exams, including two physics exams during his senior year, which have allowed him to skip some pre-requisite courses at Cornell as he pursues a degree in computer science.
South Principal Maureen Henry said it was the first time in her educational career that one of her students received such an honor. “I was so proud of him,” she said. “What a great honor he brought to South High School.”
As he took more AP exams, Yang said, he picked up on some of the nuances, which allowed him to feel less stress leading up to the tests and do better. For the exams he didn’t take a class for, he would simply study broad topics to prepare himself. “If you’re willing and able to absorb information quickly,” he said, “then you can study for an AP exam quickly.”