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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 28 2013

Moorhead student earns rare perfect score on tough AP test

MOORHEAD – In the world of Advanced Placement microeconomics, Matthew Lillehaugen is a whiz kid.

The 19-year-old, now in his first year at Concordia College, was one of only 33 students out of 67,682 nationwide who took the exam and earned a perfect score on the AP microeconomics exam, according to the College Board, which administers the exams.

He took the test last spring as he was finishing his senior year at Moorhead High School, school district officials said.

“It’s pretty exciting. I thought I had a pretty good run on the test, but I didn’t know I got a perfect score,” Lillehaugen said.

Altogether, Lillehaugen took nine AP tests while at Moorhead High. In addition to microeconomics – the study of market behavior of individuals – he took the exams for calculus, U.S. history, macroeconomics, comparative government, European history, English language, chemistry and English literature and composition.

He earned a top rank of 5 on each of them.

Those scores translated into college credits that make him technically a sophomore at Concordia, he said.

“I guess I like to learn. It was just sort of the way I was raised. You try hard in school,” Lillehaugen said.

He also ran cross country and track for four years, in addition to a year each in basketball and swimming and diving.

Michael Kieselbach, Moorhead High’s AP economics teacher, said Lillehaugen has a knack for economics. He studied above and beyond classroom work to excel in his advanced placement classes, Kieselbach said.

“He learned from his mistakes. He learned why he made the mistake and corrected it going forward,” Kieselbach said. “He was as close to a perfect student as a teacher could ask.”

Advanced placement exams are written and scored by college professors. They include a wide range of subject areas and are designed to cover a full year of intensive college-level skills and knowledge.

Out of nearly 4 million AP exams taken by 2.2 million students in 2013, 109 students earned every possible point on the exams, the College Board said.

Lillehaugen said he’s trying to decide whether he’ll major in physics or political science for his bachelor’s degree, though he said that may change.

“I like to learn enough that I’m still going to explore other areas. I wouldn’t want to just hang out in the physics and political science departments,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583