Charlotte Scarlata is one of only 31 students in the world to earn this recognition

New Hope-Solebury High School senior Charlotte Scarlata was recognized late last year as one of only 31 students in the world (representing 0.01% of test takers) to earn a perfect score on the 2021 Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics Exam.

To prepare for the exam, Charlotte read her textbook and took copious notes. She then proceeded to take more notes on her initial notes. At the end of this preparation period, she had three notebooks crammed with words and phrases written in tiny handwriting. Those who saw them were most shocked by how little white space could be found on the pages.

While she credits these memorization techniques with helping her attain the breadth of knowledge she needed, it was class discussions and her frequent conversations with her teacher Mr. Nord that helped her to understand and apply that knowledge. “It was a unique time to take a course in government with a very heated political climate, upcoming elections, and many unprecedented events occurring. Mr. Nord always shared topical information and news stories, so we could understand how the course content was playing out in the world. Even as we read the textbook, some of its lessons didn’t apply anymore, and we were figuring it out in real-time. The greatest lesson I took away from the course is that government is always changing.”

Charlotte visited Mr. Nord’s office hours frequently to have conversations about the course material. He shared, “Charlotte came to my virtual office hours a couple days every week, ready with questions that, in often cases, went beyond what one is expected to know on the College Board exam.” Mr. Nord continued, “There were multiple instances where her questions were so insightful that my response would be ‘That likely will not be on the exam, but I would happy to answer it if it will help you understand the content.’ And, in all honesty, there were even times I would respond with ‘that’s a really great question but I’m not sure of the answer. Let’s find out.’ It’s funny when you first think about it, but it really shows that she is an elite scholar who has a genuine passion for learning.”

When she reached the exam, Charlotte felt prepared and especially ready to explain applications of the US Amendments in the required essay. Her frequent conversations with Mr. Nord provided an inner dialogue that made forming that essay feel like one of their routine discussions.
As Charlotte reflects on the countless hours spent preparing for the test, she admits she often wondered if it would all mean something to her in the end. The answer is yes. “Government is something you need to care about because it impacts everything – from education, food, internet to national security.” She continued, “I’m very grateful for the recognition I’ve received and proud of the work I put in to deserve it. However, more of the pride comes from the fact that I feel competent in this information. If I have a discussion with someone or read an article, I understand it, and I can hold my ground. I can build my own perspective and my own opinions that are worthy of being discussed and shared with other people.”

Interested to derive connections between areas of study and motivated to understand content in the utmost depth, Charlotte hopes to attend a liberal arts college and to pursue a Ph.D. when she graduates. According to Mr. Nord, “Charlotte deserves an abundance of praise for this tremendous achievement, but I want to stress that there is more to Charlotte than her zeal for academic success. She is an amicable and awesome person who deserves all the success that will surely come her way.”

PHOTO CAP: Charlotte Scarlata (left) with NH-S High School teacher Kevin Nord. Photo courtesy of Lisa Schaffer Photography.

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