Are AP Exams Worth It?

Karissa Schaefer, Freelance Editor

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Advancing from regular or honors classes to an AP class can be nerve racking. A lot of stress endures with the hope of saving that bit of money for college by earning credit. From summer assignments to a big test in May that determines all your hard work.  Yet, is it really worth it?

The simple truth: NO. At most, a student can earn three credits from an AP exam, and that’s if they get a 3, 4, or 5. Most of the time, competitive or harder schools only take 4 or 5 too. Top schools like Ivy Leagues don’t even take them into consideration. The tests are tough and most of the time, the classes are too. There’s a lot of time, work, and dedication that goes into taking an AP class, speaking from someone who has already taken three already. It’s important to evaluate if it’s worth it to you, as it depends on the person and their situation. Some subjects are important to focus on or get out of the way while others can be ruled out to save $95 and just do better in an easier class if there’s an option. Not everyone is made out to be an AP student. However if they try their hardest, they can get through it. An AP class is an important learning curve and an experience of what actual college will be like. As always, try your hardest and don’t stress yourself out. It’s one test that you won’t even remember one day.

AP Exams are offered in a variety of subjects from AP Lang and AP Lit for English to AP Calculus and AP Statistics in math. Some subjects are more challenging yet others are easier.  A three hour test seems like a long time, but in reality it goes by fast. Sometimes sections are hard and a longer amount of time is spent on one over the other. Plus, each section is timed and there is a ten minute break. However, the set up for AP courses doesn’t seem ideal. There are many students who work hard and get good grades in the weighted course throughout the year, but whether or not they get credit is all determined on one test. If one fails, it feels as though all their hard work just went right down the drain. Failing for a test they’ve been trained for all year can get them discouraged and not want to try harder next time. Maybe it feels as though money given for the test was wasted or their studying was pointless. It could be a simple bad test day or nervousness that gets students and ruins their chances of being successful. Standardized testing isn’t a measure of effort for many individuals. They’re unfair, and they can lead to more harm than good.

When a school has college classes to take as well, it’s better to go with those. Usually these types of classes can be taught just as great as an AP class with a good teacher and they often offer more than just three credits. Just like the multiple subjects of APs, there’s multiple college class subjects, all while still giving you a taste of what college work is like. A downfall is that most of the costs depends on the credits you get, however, it is still significantly lower than a single credit at an actual college institution. Much of these college classes, or dual enrollment, are through a community or state school that aids aspiring, hardworking students to do more than the average high schooler. These give the same learning lessons and the payoff is significantly better than an AP. College classes are weighted slightly less than APs, but again, depending on the person, these may be the perfect class for them. As long as you pass a final and the class, you can earn credit. There is no big standardized test. These are worthy of one’s time way more than an AP class.

Overall, AP exams are tough and don’t test a student’s true capability of knowledge and forward thinking. There is not enough time in a year of 40 minute periods to mainly memorize the material. They can lead to premature stress and burnt out students at a time that they don’t need it.