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Eagle Scout one of 12 students in the world to ace AP Calculus test

Landon-before-jamboreeNext time a Scout grumbles about not having enough time for both Scouting and studying, tell him about Landon Labuskes.

The 15-year-old is an Eagle Scout in the National Capital Area Council. He’s also one of just 12 students in the world to get a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus exam.

Somehow he has made time to be a world-class student and earn Scouting’s highest honor. I talked with him recently to find out how.

But first, I want to make sure you understand just how impressive Landon’s score really is.

AP tests are graded on a 5-point scale. A 5 is the best, and it qualifies students for a handful of credits once they enter college.

Exactly 66,045 of the 302,532 students who took the test got 5s. That’s 21.8 percent. But only 12 students worldwide aced the exam, scoring 108 out of 108 possible points. That’s 0.004 percent.

Landon is one of 12. If that’s not impressive enough, consider this: He was just a 14-year-old sophomore when he made that grade. The other students who aced the exam, including one in Canada and one in Turkey, were juniors and seniors.

Landon knows more about functions, derivatives and “applications of anti-differentiation” than your typical teenager (and way more than your typical blogger). But despite all the time he’s dedicated to school, Landon — who wants to be an aerospace engineer some day — still makes time for Scouting.

I caught up with Landon to learn how.

Bryan: What was your first thought when you learned about your perfect score?

Landon: My first thought was just “Wow, I was one of 12 to do this.” I had expected to do well on the exam based on all the preparation my class had done, but I didn’t expect to get a perfect score.

Bryan: OK, let’s cut to the chase. How did you have time to study and become an Eagle Scout?

Landon: One thing that helped was doing a lot of my Eagle Scout project during the summer. In addition, by planning ahead, I was able to use my time more effectively to do both.

Bryan: What’s your advice for other Scouts who will take an AP test this year?

Landon: I would advise Scouts to really invest in the class. AP classes are designed to teach you the material on the test and prepare you for the exam. If one truly invests themselves in the class, they will be much more likely to succeed.

Bryan: So you’re saying you can’t just cram the night before.

Landon: Right. AP exams are the equivalent of a final for a college course, so it’s not something you can learn overnight.

Bryan: Sometimes a Scout might be forced to choose between going on a campout or studying. How did you make that choice?

Landon: Ideally, you plan ahead and you can do both. However, if you have to decide, it really depends on what test it is and what Scouting event it is. Some tests, like an SAT or ACT, can have a huge impact on where you go to college. For a test like that, I would recommend studying because a bad score could be seriously detrimental to your chances of getting into a good college. On the other hand, a Scouting event like Philmont could have a lasting impact on your life.

Bryan: Any tips for someone who does try to do both Scouting and studying during the same weekend?

Landon: You often have time at home after a camping trip that could be used for studying. But ultimately each situation is different — depending on the gravity of the test and the importance of the Scouting event.

Bryan: Thanks, Landon! And best of luck.

4 Comments on Eagle Scout one of 12 students in the world to ace AP Calculus test

  1. Landon’s answer is music to my ears:
    Plan ahead
    Plan ahead
    Plan ahead
    One day I’m going to claim temporary insanity and tell a parent that the 25 Scouts who did make it to the campout/meeting go to the same school, are in the same classes, and they also all had homework.
    Heck, -I- have homework; I’ve written college papers on campouts and left lock-ins at 12 AM to finish papers. Prioritize and plan ahead.

  2. Hmm, “Plan ahead.” Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an emblem with some words like that emblazoned on a scroll shaped in a smile … 😉

  3. Richard Stone // February 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm // Reply

    Camping or Math. Both interesting and fun in their own ways. How to chose? Sounds like a cost-benefit trade study (You’ll be doing alot of these working in aerospace!). If both cost and benefit are monotonically increasing with effort, the cross-over point of the two curves defines the optimum amount of effort. What are the shapes of the curves? Where do they cross? Just thinking about this is fun!

    –Richard Stone, BSA National STEM committee

  4. Julie Nowaskey // February 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm // Reply

    Congratulations Landon! Great accomplishment!

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