AP tests: deciding earlier, paying more

Almost every single AP test consists of both a multiple choice and writing portion.

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Almost every single AP test consists of both a multiple choice and writing portion.

Each year, thousands of students across the country enroll in AP classes in preparation for the AP tests administered in early May. But, thousands more enroll uncertain of whether or not they want to take the exam. 

AP tests, a product of the College Board, are meant to measure mastery of a course. They are taken as challenging, subject-specific, hours-long exams, either taken at 8 a.m. or 12 p.m. But, nobody is playing games when it comes to these exams. The hope for many AP students is to use these tests to earn college credit. 

After the May testing, scores are typically released in late June or early July. Students who take make-up tests in June can expect scores around August. When students receive their score, they will see a number, either one, two, three, four or five. A five indicates mastery, a four indicates that you are very well qualified in the subject, a three indicates that you are qualified and scores of one and two indicate that you are not qualified. Scores of three, four, or five are considered passing scores. 

The benefit to taking the tests is that most colleges will accept passing scores for a credit. Not every college will accept all scores, however. Some colleges will only accept 4s and 5s, some will only accept 5s, and some will not accept scores for credit at all.

However, the decision to take an exam is not one that comes lightly. The cost of the tests is one factor that may deter students. For others, top college choices may not accept credits for the exams. Most importantly, not every student wants to take the exam and not every student will feel prepared to by May. 

This year, students must make this challenging decision by November 5, which is earlier than last year’s decision deadline in mid-Novermber. AP Statistics teacher Mr. Skroupa feels strongly about the accelerated deadline.

He explained, “Earlier decision dates force students into making decisions that they may not be fully prepared to make. Students could make a much better decision in February or March. The decision date is not even one semester into the school year and it is not enough time for students to feel comfortable with their decision.” 

Senior Ethan Iams concurred and felt that the decision date should be at least mid-November, but expressed that the updated deadline would not affect his choice. 

To add another factor to the decision, the price per test has been raised to $96 – $2 more than last year. For students taking 4 or 5 exams, that could mean an additional $10 to a cost of up to $470 total.

Iams described the additional cost as “salt in the wound.”

Certainly, there are students feeling similarly. 

Junior  Caleb Falvo felt like the November deadline was okay, but felt like costs under $50 per test would be much more acceptable. He also elaborated that the $2 increase isn’t major, but it does add up, especially if the price continues to rise every year. 

Regardless of what decisions are made, good luck to all AP students during classes and testing!