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South students achieve at American Chemical Society Exam

South students achieve at American Chemical Society Exam

Glenbrook South students Rohan Shah and Anya Agrawal, under the supervision of GBS science teacher Jim Glynn, recently sat for the American Chemical Society Exam, where Shah won 3rd place, and Agrawal received an honorable mention out of the 78 students who participated.

The American Chemical Society Exam is an annual exam that covers the content of a full year of honors chemistry. It is a two-part exam, the first part being multiple, and concludes with a free response section.

Any teacher in the Chicago Metropolitan Area can nominate two students to participate in the exam. Glynn, who has nominated students for three years now, nominated Shah and Agrawal, two of his Chem/Phys students.

Glynn has a specific way of choosing the nominees from his pool of students.

“When I look at the students I think about nominating, I’m looking at a couple of things,” Glynn said. “They have to be good test takers, ultimately. I need someone who I know is going to put extra time in outside of class.”
GBS has had success in the past with nominees for the exam.

“We’ve done pretty well the last four years,” Glynn said. “We’ve had two seconds, a third and a fifth [place], which is not bad out of 80 to 100 (students) every year.”

Glynn is not only involved with the exam by nominating students, but he is also the exam coordinator. This means Glynn contacts other teachers in the area, who then proceed to send in their nominations. Glynn then sends out invitations to give to their students and helps coordinate with the American Chemical society.

While Glynn prepared for the test by helping to coordinate, Shah and Agrawal prepared by studying for the test on their own. Both students studied for the test as they would a final, and the most help they received from Glynn was practice tests and some advice. The reason for this was that Glynn believes Shah and Agrawal both are self-motivated and organized, and consequently they didn’t need much help from Glynn outside of what he was teaching in class.

After the test was over, Shah was pleased earn third place.

“To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to come in third, I thought I would have been lucky to maybe make the top ten based on how hard the test was, but coming in third was a pretty pleasant surprise for me,” Shah said.

Shah and Agrawal shared the same thoughts in terms of the test’s difficulty level.

“I thought the test was pretty difficult, but it helped me not to panic to know that a lot of the other people taking it were also saying it was pretty difficult,” Shah said. “I knew I didn’t have to be the best one, I just had to be one of the best ones there.”

A dinner was held to commemorate the top student’s success on the exam on September 20, in Naperville. During this ceremony, Shah received $2,500 for getting third place.

In the end, Glynn said he thinks the greatest benefit is not the prize money, but the experience of taking the test itself.

“It’s kind of like a prelude to college, in the sense that you go into this room and every single heavy hitter from every other high school is there,” Glynn said. “It’s like these are people you might be taking chemistry with when you go to college”.

Agrawal was unavailable for comment at the time of this story’s writing.

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