Taking AP Tests: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
College- the daunting institute of every high school student’s future that must be faced at one point or another. The idea itself is not necessarily the most intimidating part of college, however, it is the intricate details that are overwhelming to ponder. One of the factors that affects every high school student is the cost. College is not cheap. According to the National Center for Education statistics, the average cost of a four year public college tuition is approximately $14,000; this does not include room, board, and other expenses.
In an effort to dampen the tuition prices, high schools around the country offer Advanced Placement classes. These courses are designed for academically accelerated students who want to obtain college credit in a cheap and effective way. To obtain this credit, one must take a test summing up all of the acquired information from the course and receive either a 3, 4 or 5.
By passing the test, a student has the opportunity to accelerate to higher level courses when they enter college. Each test is worth three credits; if a student has accumulated enough of these credits, they can enter college and skip their first semester as a freshman. This gives the student a better chance of finishing an undergraduate degree, entering graduate school, and starting a personal life faster.
As well as being time efficient, the AP tests are financially beneficial. The test itself is only $86 dollars, while the average college course is over $100. Even if a student fails the AP test, it is better to do so then fail the class. If the test is failed, then the student can retake the course while in college and already be prepared for most of the information.
AP courses are taught on a level designed for students who desire a challenge beyond what a high school course offers. If a student is looking to improve their college status in the future, then there is no harm in taking the class and test.
While there are many beneficial aspects of the Advanced Placement tests, there are some downfalls. The courses are designed for students who want to actively participate in class and accelerate in learning, however, there are students who take the class but do not actually want to learn. These students inhibit the diligent and advanced learners from reaping all the benefits of an AP course.
Many teachers who teach AP courses use the majority of fourth quarter to review for the test since it is a compilation of all of the material within the course. If a student takes the class but opts out of the test, then the whole fourth quarter is a review with no purpose. These students have to sit through all of the practice tests and review sessions while this time could be used learning more information.
AP tests are a great course to put on college transcripts, however, there is a complication with the timing of the test. Students are required to sign up for the test before the beginning of April, however, there are colleges that do not send out decisions until April 1. It is unfair to these student to have to decide whether to take the test or not when they have no idea if the test will benefit them at all. Some colleges do not accept AP scores, therefore, cancelling a registration for the test would hurt a student since the full payment would not be refunded.
Alongside the financial aspect of AP tests is how one pays for the test. In Howard County, each student is responsible for paying for their own test, however, in counties, like Montgomery County, the school system pays for the test. This is an unfair advantage to those students because they are suffering no sacrifices to take the test and fail.
Not only does the county pay, but more and more teachers have been using the test as a way to exempt students from taking the final. This is a poor stragtey to persuade students to take the test and is not beneficial to the student nor school system since the scores reflect upon the teacher.
AP courses are a great way to get ahead for college, however there are many aspects that must be considered before registering for an expensive test and a full course load. If people do not know what they are signing up for , then they are most likely spending $86 on failure.