Sophomore earns perfect score on AP computer science exam

Justin Rose ’17 was one of 12 students in the world to receive a perfect score on the 2014 AP Computer Science Exam.

Rose was one of two freshmen from Harvard-Westlake to take the exam last year. To prepare for the exam, he took an online course in computer science during the school year and also took an introductory computer science class at UCLA during the summer of 2013. He also met regularly with Jessica Kaufman, a mathematics, library and technology teacher at the Middle School.

“I don’t think it’s really spending time to study for the test but having a deep understanding for everything that’s introduced, so not really cramming for it, but just sort of understanding it as it goes …and making sure you keep that sense of understanding,” Rose said.

Though it frustrated him at times, computer science came naturally to Rose.

“I enjoy it. I mean, just solving a problem with a computer, it just is a unique experience, and there can be times when you can get really frustrated. There are times when it can be extraordinarily frustrating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like it or I don’t think it’s fun, because just at the end when you get something done, it feels really nice,” Rose said.

Rose first found his passion for computer science when he started programming in the summer after his fifth grade year.

“I’ve always looked up to other programmers, and it just seemed like something I wanted to do,” Rose said.

He originally decided to take the Advanced Placement test to get ahead and into more advanced topics by the time he would reach the upper school.

“I wasn’t shooting for a perfect, but I was doing well enough on the practice tests that I thought it might be possible. I wasn’t aiming for a perfect; I was just aiming for a five,” Rose said.

Rose said he didn’t expect to ace the test at all.

“I actually didn’t, like if you told me the day after the day I took the test that I was going to get a perfect, I probably wouldn’t have believed you,” he said. “I mean, I didn’t feel horrible about it, but I didn’t think I didn’t miss anything. I was sure that I had missed a multiple choice or half a point on the short answer or something.”

Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas congratulated Rose at the first and third Wednesday assembly Feb. 4, and in a statement on the front page of hw.com.

“Justin is a living example of, ‘Good process leads to good outcomes,’” Barzdukas said. “He works hard, thinks creatively, contributes to discussions and is open to different ideas. We are fortunate to have Justin as a member of our community, and are proud of his achievement.”

Rose is taking the Design and Data Structure class at the Upper School. He hasn’t thought much about his career, but he definitely wants to continue computer science in the future.

“I’m not really sure what I want to focus on, but there are so many different fields …there’s just so many ways to go, and I’m not really sure which way to take it,” he said. “Just the whole general field, I think I want to continue in.”

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