INDIANAPOLIS — Truman Bennet has always been good at math.
His parents, he said, placed an emphasis on math when he was young. And now, as an 18-year-old Marion High School senior, his math skills have paid off.
Bennet is one of just 18 students in the world to achieve a perfect score — earning every point possible — on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam, putting him among 0.006% of students who took the exam, according to the College Board.
"It’s just amazing," he said. "Just to be part of an elite group of people like that."
The AP Calculus AB is equivalent to a first semester college calculus course, according to the College Board, the organization that administers the exam. Topics covered include concepts and skills of limits, derivatives, definite integrals and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. AP exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score possible.
Bennet was notified of his perfect score on the calculus exam in July after taking the exam in May, but he received notification from the College Board late last week. He attributed his success to in-class preparation, coordinated by his teacher, Doug Porter.
"You know, something like this is a feat that I would have never imagined," Porter said. "Nothing like this happens by accident; it’s a product of a lot of hard work, and Truman does not cut any corners."
Porter has been a math teacher for 23 years, 11 of those spent teaching AP calculus. He said he had never thought one of his students would get a perfect score, although Marion students consistently exceed national average passing results.
When Bennet took the exam, he paid to have his free response questions returned and asked Porter to grade them using online rubrics, he said.
"I looked at the rubric and I said: 'Truman, I don’t see any mistakes in this,' " Porter said. But there was still room for possible error among the 45 multiple choice questions.
But Bennet's exam was perfect. And Porter deflected the credit Bennet gave him.
"That's Truman: No matter what he does or accomplishes, he’s always quick to praise others or to build others up," Porter said. "I’m so proud of him."
Bennet said word of his score got around and that people have been congratulating him all week.
"It’s still crazy," he said. "Kids at school that you’ve probably never talked to before and probably never will talk to again, telling you congrats."
In addition to his perfect score on the calculus exam, he scored a 5 on the AP Statistics exam. He said he plans to take four other AP exams at the end of this academic year.
His advice for other students who aspire to achieve perfect scores on their AP exams? Practice and grade yourself honestly.
"See what kind of questions you’re struggling with, which ones you’re not," he said. "Really, you need to be picky with yourself so when you take the exam, you do exactly what you want."
Bennet said he hopes to study mathematics in college and earn a doctorate to become a college professor. He already has been accepted to Ball State University, has applied to Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and plans to apply to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"I don’t know exactly how to include it on my application yet," he said. "This definitely doesn’t hurt."
Follow Holly Hays on Twitter: @hollyvhays