Are Our AP Tests Worth It? | Josh Dillen

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As the fifth of May draws closer, one thing pervades the minds of CCA students like no other. AP exams are approaching fast and try as we might, testing cannot be delayed. While almost all of the students on campus are aware of AP classes and their impending exams, they seem to be somewhat confused as to their purpose. Originally touted as cheap ways out of expensive college credits, AP tests are growing more and more meaningless.

There is no doubt that CCA students are taking AP classes and their subsequent exams. In fact, the latest issue of Pulse magazine contains a full spread on the matter. Show up to campus on the day of any popular test and be awestruck at the number of students missing. Great swathes of sophomores are missing school for world history and chemistry. Juniors are nowhere to be found during US history and English Language and Composition tests. Seniors are skipping just for the sake of skipping class. However, the best day to find a parking spot in the student lot is by far the Calculus AB exam which decimates attendance and leaves a noticeable empty feeling around campus. Without a doubt, students are taking AP exams, but why?

The most common argument for taking AP exams is the assumption that they are worth college credit. While a good point, it is most certainly a controversial one. More and more schools are restricting or refusing credit for AP classes. These schools happen to be top tier universities, some of which are in the Ivy League. It is then puzzling why students who receive high marks would choose to take AP exams as the very schools they have their sights set on do not accept them for credit. Granted, many top tier universities do still accept an arbitrary number received for taking a secret test, but if the trend continues, this practice will become less and less common place.

Also troubling is the cost and secrecy the Collegeboard surrounds the exams with. The cost of the exams has reached the one hundred dollar mark and no guarantee can be made that a student will receive credit. For a student taking four exams, this is a serious investment. There is also no guarantee that the AP class you have taken has actually prepared you for the exam. The Collegeboard takes test security extremely seriously to such an extreme that neither students nor teachers know what material could be covered on the test. For example, in my AP chemistry class, an entire chapter was spent learning the beast that is the equilibrium problem in preparation for the multiple choice section, but more importantly, the free response section. However, on the day of the exam, noticeably absent from the FRQ section was the equilibrium problem. Teachers and students are at the mercy of the Collegeboard and must trust that the curriculum taught by the teacher will prepare them for the exam.

Most likely as the culprit of AP testing at CCA is the necessity for the students to be over prepared. Students at CCA are constantly striving for the absolute best chance at an ivy league admission, and if AP exams will not hurt their chances, then it could possibly provide them an advantage. While the obsession with AP testing is an issue, it is merely a symptom of a larger ailment on campus.

Josh Dillen is the Editorial Director of Pulse Magazine.