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Gainesville High School student earns top score on international exam

Two Gainesville High School students are sitting and smiling outside a school building. They both completed Cambridge exams and received top scores.
Vicki Jung (left) and Rachel Young (right) have both been recognized by Cambridge Assessment International for receiving top scores in the nation on their exams.

Gainesville High School senior Rachel Young earned the highest score in the world on the English Language Cambridge exam. 

But this is not Young’s first standardized test accolade.

The GHS student received a perfect score on the ACT exam last year and was named a 2022 National Merit Semifinalist.

The Cambridge Exams, which are administered by Cambridge Assessment International, are rigorous college-level exams affiliated with Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. More than 175,000 students worldwide take Cambridge exams each year.

Young earned a ‘Top of the World’ score, which is awarded to students who have received the highest mark in the world in an individual subject. In biology, Young received a ‘Top of the USA’ award as well.

With her aspirations set in the STEM field, Young was not expecting her high score in the English Language exam. 

“I didn’t think it was going that well when I was actually taking the exam, so that was definitely a big surprise,” she said.

Young is not the only GHS student that received high marks on the Cambridge exams. Vicki Jung, a junior, earned a ‘Top of the USA’ award in the Mathematics exam. Two GHS alumni, Patrick Schanuth and Zoe Lammers, received ‘Top of the USA’ scores in 2021, in Physics and Global Perspectives and Research, respectively.

In 2019, Sterling Reed became thefirst Alachua County student to earn the ‘Top of the World’ award when he also received it for the English Language exam.

All of these students participated in the high school’s Cambridge program, which is a magnet program offered for high-achieving students.

Ten students in the program were named 2022 National Merit Semifinalists, and an additional 15 students were recognized as Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Students in the program take AICE classes to prepare for the exams to earn college credit and a potential Cambridge diploma. The Cambridge AICE diploma is awarded to students who have passed seven Cambridge exams in three different subject groups as well as a Global Perspectives and Research exam.

In Florida, high school students who complete an AICE diploma and 100 community service hours earn the Florida Academic Scholars award from the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.

Academically rigorous courses are gaining popularity among Alachua County students, who are enrolling in AICE courses as well asdual enrollment and Advanced Placement classes.

Gainesville High School’s Cambridge coordinator Carmen Butfiloski promotes the flexibility the Cambridge program offers.

“I love to see how students can tailor the program to meet their needs and their college and career plans,” Butfiloski said. “They can take the courses they need and find things they’re passionate about during their high school careers.”

Currently, students in GHS’s Cambridge program are preparing to take the 2022 Cambridge exams, which will occur April 25 to June 9. The high school will also be hosting a recognition ceremony for Young, Jung and the dozens of other GHS students who received high scores in the Cambridge exams.

Grace is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.