Novi student is 1 of 27 worldwide to get perfect score on AP Seminar exam

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published October 5, 2023

 Novi High School student Saniya Reddy, 17, earned a perfect score while earning all possible points on her AP Seminar exam.

Novi High School student Saniya Reddy, 17, earned a perfect score while earning all possible points on her AP Seminar exam.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


NOVI — A Novi High School student is one of only 27 in the world to obtain all possible points on the AP Seminar exam.

Saniya Reddy, a senior at Novi High School, recently found out that she not only got a 5 — the top score — on her AP Seminar exam, but she now joins a very select group of kids worldwide who can say they obtained every possible point on the exam.

“It’s definitely a very time-consuming and rigorous course. I spent so many late-nighters and hours preparing for my portfolio. I was excited when I found out that I got a 5 on the exam because it’s pretty hard to do, but I think being one of the 27 people worldwide to get every possible point on the exam is just so cool to think about. The rubrics are tough and ultra-specific, so I didn’t expect it, but I was really proud,” Reddy said.

Reddy said that in spite of all the “all-nighters,” she found the course to be rewarding. She said her success is “definitely a testament” to her instructor, Hattie Maguire, and the school librarian, Bethany Bratney. She said they went out of their way to make sure students had every resource at their disposal.

AP Seminar is the first of two courses that make up the AP Capstone Diploma Program. According to Reddy, it is a university-level course that focuses on developing academic research skills rather than “learning content” as you would in a regular AP course. She said the class is “pretty much impossible to study for” because it assesses a student’s writing skills and ability to support an argument, along with collaboration and presentation skills, rather than knowledge retention.

“AP Seminar is definitely a marathon, not a sprint, because there’s multiple facets that go into your overall score,” said Reddy, using an analogy fitting for a varsity cross country captain.

She said that the score is derived from points on the AP test, but it is also based on two performance tasks. One of the tasks analyzes an issue; the other requires an evidence-based argument. The tasks required her to write an essay, give a presentation and provide a spoken defense of her research and conclusions. For her first performance task, Reddy said she focused on the government response to hurricane-related damage in the United States. For the second performance task, she said she researched the impact of pollution on minority communities due to environmental racism.

“The skills you learn in AP Seminar, like critical and holistic thinking, evaluation of perspectives, and defending evidence-based arguments, all under a time crunch, are very beneficial going into college. It’s a set of skills that we are exposed to early in the year and are constantly practicing, but ones that have well-equipped us for the future,” Reddy said. “When I read articles and research now, I’m humbled by the amount of information I don’t know and am eager to learn more, and in Seminar, we were able to hone in on that.”

Maguire said that this was the first time in her more than 20 years of teaching that she has ever had a student get all possible points on the exam.

“When I got the email, I gasped out loud, and my family said, ‘What’s wrong?’” Maguire said. “I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised, though, because Saniya was everything I look for in an AP Seminar student. She’s legitimately curious about the world around her. She’s a careful, thoughtful researcher, and she’s an incredibly hard worker.”

Reddy not only took AP Seminar, but has taken a total of nine AP courses. She is also captain of both the varsity cross country and track teams, and maintains a part-time job as a clerical assistant in her father’s medical practice.

Reddy said she also credits her support system — not only her teachers, but her parents and sister as well.

“They were always there for me to fall back on junior year when I was in the trenches with all my academic and athletic commitments, and I don’t think I would have been where I am now without their support,” she said. “They’ve never been the type to put any pressure on me to succeed, and I think because of that, I’ve been able to carve my own path and enjoy the process.”

She is currently taking the second course in the AP Capstone classes, AP Research. In the course, she said, she will have to create a 5,000-word thesis-like paper, present it and defend it.  According to Reddy, the course runs similarly to a course someone in graduate school would take.

She said she encourages others to take the course because “at the end of the day, if you put in the work, the results are very fruitful.”

Reddy is pursuing the AP Capstone Diploma and said she hopes to attend the University of Michigan next year. She said she plans to major in either biology or exercise science.