PHS senior achieves perfection on AP exam

PHS senior achieves perfection on AP Computer Science exam - one of just 91 in the world
Posted on 10/04/2023
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A Piscataway High School senior has achieved a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Computer Science Exam – one of only 91 students in the world to reach such remarkable heights.


This is the second year in a row that a Piscataway student has attained perfection in AP Computer Science A, the most rigorous AP computer science course.


Yunus Yucel, who moved to Piscataway from Turkey at the start of his junior year, said this success means so much more to him than even the overwhelming academic value.


“This is my first year in the United States, and having this kind of accomplishment makes me feel more comfortable here,” he said. “It really is inspiring for me. Of course it has academic value when you apply to college or a job, but for me it’s also a sign that I won’t be lost here just because I came here later. It’s shows that I’m not so much different than the others.”


PHS Principal Chris Baldassano said Yucel’s accomplishment is a point of pride for the whole school.


“AP courses and the AP exam are extremely challenging. To achieve a perfect score is an incredible accomplishment,” he said. “It goes to show the hard work and dedication of both staff and students. On behalf of the faculty and administration, it is with great pride we recognize Yunus’ perfect score.”

student with teacher

Yunus Yucel with PHS Computer Science teacher Brinder Soin.

Trevor Packer, head of the Advanced Placement program, said a student’s perfect score is a reflection of a schoolwide effort.


“This outstanding accomplishment is likely a direct reflection of the top-quality education being offered at Piscataway Township High School,” he said. “We applaud Yunus’ hard work and the AP teacher responsible for engaging students and enabling them to excel in a college-level course.”


Brinder Soin, Yucel’s AP Computer Science teacher at PHS, called his star student “a natural learner.”


“Yunus is special,” he said. “What stands out for Yunus is his humbleness and his focus. Learning is not difficult for him. But his humility, his focus, his helping of other students are what stand out. He just came in from Turkey last year and you’d be surprised to see how many friends he has. Students rally around him.”


Soin said he had students coming to him asking if Yucel had gotten a perfect score even before the school got word of the results.


“In AP Computer Science, we develop a community of kids,” he said. “There were other students coming in saying, ‘Mr. Soin, did Yunus get a perfect score?’ They were not worried about their own scores.”


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Discussion of a perfect score built throughout the 2022-23 school year because of the success of Tyler Tran, a current PHS senior who achieved a perfect score in his sophomore year. His great achievement raised the bar for other students taking the APSC-A exam.


“There were four or five student that were in play to get a perfect score,” Soin said. “What we did last year with Tyler, that motivated a whole slew of students. The goal was not to get a 5 (the highest grade), the goal was to pull a perfect score.


“It’s like lightning struck twice. Success breeds more success. The odds of two students in a row pulling a perfect score from the same school are very low.”


PHS senior Tyler Tran, who achieve a perfect score on the AP Computer Science A exam as a sophomore, inspired other students to aim for perfection.

Yucel, who took the exam in May and got the results in September, said he was in fact motivated by Tran’s success the previous year, and that he was shooting for perfection.


“When I first came here, like two weeks later I had seen Tyler’s interview,” Yucel said of the news coverage that followed Tran’s perfect score. “I saw his motivation and I tried to get to that point as well. Mr. Soin was talking about him sometimes, saying he is a good student and was always telling us good things about him. I thought I also need to trace his path and pull off success as well.”


Yucel’s first choice of college is Rutgers, where he would like to major in computer science. He also plans to apply to Stevens Institute of Technology and New Jersey Institute of Technology. The perfect score is of course a major boost to his application, but Yucel isn’t taking anything for granted because of his limited time in the U.S. education system.


“I really don’t know how it will go because I really don’t have a strong profile compared to the students here,” he said. “I just came here. I’m trying to improve myself. Maybe they will see the effort. I will just apply and see what they will give me.”


* * *


When Yucel first arrived at PHS, he was scheduled to take Introduction to Computer Science. But his teacher, Akshay Patel, realized he had previous experience and recommended that he move into APSC-A. He discussed it with Soin and Yucel’s counselor, Mark Kiang, and the three helped Yucel moved into the more advanced class.


“They were really helpful, my teachers, counselors,” Yucel said. “We really have a very good community in this school. Thanks to them it really was a good process for me throughout the year. I really appreciate their efforts for me and really hope I can give good things back to this community.”


Most of all, Yucel felt the support of his family helped to motivate him.


“My family helped a lot throughout this process, especially my mom and my brothers who are really great people,” he said.


Yucel’s father died shortly before he came to the United States, but he was a great influence on his success nevertheless.


“His lessons to me kept me motivated throughout my life,” he said.


“I really need to thank my family for their help throughout my life and I really hope I can give them something back. Of course, I can’t give back as much as they gave me.”