Should students be required to take AP exams?


The Catalyst / Peyton Daley

Students will take AP exams between May and June.

The end of a school year is always a busy time for high school students, but for those in AP classes, spring comes with the added stress of AP exams. However, a lot of this anxiety could be reduced if NDB gave students the option of whether or not to take the exam for each of their AP courses.

AP exam scores are used to receive college credit, but many private colleges only accept a certain number of classes for credit. Some do not accept any at all or require additional entrance tests to receive AP credit.

State schools such as the University of California are more lenient, but still, only accept a score above a 3 (on a scale from 1 to 5) as college credit. Therefore, if students do not feel confident that they can receive a passing score, they should have the ability to opt-out of an exam since it will not benefit them later on.

One of my AP exams is after the end of the school year and I will be traveling on that date, which makes it very difficult and stressful to take the exam

— Makena Conneely

AP test scores can also be reported on college applications, so a high score could be helpful for students. Still, those taking multiple APs may want to prioritize certain classes, especially since exams can be back to back on the same week or even the same day.

“Students should be given the option to take the AP exams because it is another stressful test near finals and some students may just want to focus on finals,” said NDB junior Kayla George.

Whereas AP exams are optional to report, a final grade can impact a student’s overall semester grade, which is not optional to leave off of a transcript. Having to juggle both finals and AP exams could be costly for some girls’ grades.

Especially this year, it is important for students to have the choice to sit out of AP tests. The College Board has given schools the option of doing online or in-person exams. Unfortunately, due to the Bay Area’s COVID-19 restrictions and the number of students taking AP exams, NDB cannot offer in-person tests. Typically, exams are offered during the first two weeks of May and students have a small break before finals. Since online exam dates are later than the in-person ones, NDB students will take their tests between May 11 and June 10. This means that many students will have to take their exams the days before and after finals. Some girls are even taking tests after graduation

“I feel that students taking AP courses shouldn’t have to take the AP exams this year,” shared NDB junior, Makena Conneely. “One of my AP exams is after the end of the school year and I will be traveling on that date, which makes it very difficult and stressful to take the exam.”

The past year has also raised new questions on the effectiveness and equity of standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT in college admissions. The same sentiments can be applied to AP exams; the tests themselves cost $95, and then there are the outside tutoring programs, review books, etc. that create an unfair advantage for those who can afford them.

The purpose of taking an AP class is not to get a 5 on the exam, it is to learn and be challenged with college-level material throughout the year. College Board’s tests should not be a required add-on.