A Riverside-Brookfield High School junior earned a perfect score last May on the Advanced Placement Computer Science Principles exam, answering every question correctly.
Abigail Sokol, of Brookfield, was one of only 335 students in the world to receive every point possible on the exam.
“Earning a perfect score on any AP exam is extremely challenging, but especially in computer science,” said Sandy Czajka, who teaches the AP computer science class. “There are many places where a student might misread the code or have a minor calculation error that would result in not earning a perfect score even though the student could earn a 5 on the exam.
“Her perfect score not only demonstrates mastery of the computer science content, but is also representative of her critical eye for detail and cool analysis.”
Sokol told the Landmark that she completed the two-hour test in only 30 minutes so she had a lot of time to check her work. Walking out of the test she knew she did well, but she had no idea that she would get a perfect score. In practice tests she had always made at least one mistake.
“I had always missed one question here or there, just by not reading the question correctly or something like that, just silly mistakes, so I was very surprised that I got a perfect score,” Sokol said.
She didn’t find out about her perfect score until a few weeks ago.
“Even though the test was maybe not the most difficult test I’ve ever taken, given just my past knowledge in the subject, I was still really excited,” Sokol said. “If nothing else, I thought it might look good on a college application.”
Sokol started getting seriously interested in computer science once she started high school.
“I’ve been studying computer science since freshman year and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it,” Sokol said.
Before high school Sokol, who was home schooled until entering RBHS as a freshman, dabbled with computer game design.
“Before high school I had sort of messed around with making, to be honest, some pretty bad games in Java Script,” Sokol said.
It wasn’t until her freshman year at RBHS when her friend Connor Stenson showed her to how to create a website using HTML that she became fascinated by computer science.
“It was super simple but it kind of blew me away, and that’s sort of what started me just trying to learn as much as I could about computers,” Sokol said. “And somewhere along that track I realized that I really loved doing it and was really good at it.”
While taking AP Computer Science Principles last year she also took RBHS’s other Advanced Placement computer science course, AP Computer Science A, which according to the AP College Board “focus[es] on leveraging programming in Java to solve problems.” AP Computer Science Principles, according to the College Board, “focuses on broader aspects of computing.”
“I just took both in the same year because, I guess, I wasn’t sure which one to take and I figured by taking both I would be covered,” Sokol said.
Sokol has taught herself much about computer science and has even designed a primitive 4-bit computer with 20 RAM, just for fun.
Sokol loves math and is especially interested in the theoretical aspects of computer science.
“I’m hoping to potentially get a doctorate in the future,” Sokol said. “I especially enjoy the way that sometimes math and computer science overlap.”
Having exhausted the computer science classes offered at RBHS, next semester Sokol will take a class in data structures and algorithms at Illinois Institute of Technology under a dual credit program that RBHS has with IIT.
Sokol is fascinated by what computers can do. She can code in many different computer languages and loves the freedom of creating her own software and not being limited to commercial software.
“I enjoy how you can get computers, devices that seem to control much of our lives, to do pretty much anything you want,” Sokol said. “I just think it’s really interesting and allows much more freedom than only using computer science software.”