Huaxu “Tommy” Dan's ’21 performance on the AP® Microeconomics Exam in May 2021 was so superior that it falls into a rather select category. Advanced Placement® Exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. Dan not only received the top score of 5, but was also one of only 11 students in the world to earn every point possible on the AP® Microeconomics Exam, receiving the maximum score on each portion of the exam.
“Tommy was such a conscientious student,” said Upper School economics teacher Tracey Deeter. “He always sought a deeper understanding of the material and was constantly looking to make connections to other disciplines - in particular, the field of calculus. Economics suited him well, as he was very flexible in his thinking and able to apply concepts with ease to new scenarios.”
Dan’s score on the test is not only reflective of his hard work but also of the exceptional quality of his teacher. Due to the complexity of the material, Deeter begins with short simulations to introduce a concept. Her class comes to life with hands-on projects that engage the students: the class explores the law of diminishing returns through a paper pizza challenge, the law of diminishing marginal utility through observing a student eat donut hole after donut hole, and a “fishing” game to illustrate the tragedy of the commons.
Deeter said, “Students often have no idea about what they are getting into when they sign up for AP Economics.” To the uninformed, economics may appear to be all about numbers, graphs, and charts, but Deeter explains that it is actually a social science that examines the way in which people make decisions. After a few lessons under their belt, the students quickly learn that many of the economic concepts will help them become better decision-makers in life.
The information taught in the class does not exist in a vacuum, and the students apply their knowledge to real-world, relevant situations. For instance, after the students learn about labor markets, they explore the economic reasons behind why PGA members outearn LPGA members. Following the lesson about supply, demand, and profit maximization, students investigated the reasoning behind Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors in addition to the company’s support of the BLM movement. In macroeconomics, students researched several government websites in order to evaluate the current state of the economy.
From GDP, inflation, and unemployment data, to current monetary policy, fiscal policy, and our growing national debt, macroeconomics makes it easy for the concepts to come to life for the students. Just ask Tommy Dan.
Although Dan excelled on his AP Economics exam, he is a student with multiple dimensions as well as humble, thoughtful, and kind. He is passionate about the world of physics, curious to know the mechanics behind everything. He organized KO's first-ever Hackathon. He was a mentor, teacher, and a team player on the robotics team and played sax, and was first chair in the KO concert band. Dan now attends the University of California, Santa Barbara.