The Vision

Carpenter: The Trouble with AP Tests

This is the College Board logo from the website.

College Board

This is the College Board logo from the website.

Alexz Carpenter, Social Media Editor

Recently, I attended a meeting at MSMS about Advanced Placement testing. Since Advanced Placement (AP) tests are coming up soon, Dr. Heath Stevens hosted a meeting to inform students on the procedure and also some of the cons that come with taking the test.

Once I attended this meeting, I was notified of many things that surprised me. I began to question why students even take AP tests. I began to research College Board, the creator of the tests, and was surprised to figure out the information that I did.

In 2017, 2.7 million kids were expected to take 4.9 million AP tests on 39 different subjects that are offered. It costs students an abundant amount of money to take an AP test. It costs approximately $94 for each test, and if a student has to take more than one test, it could lead to some financial trouble for them.

From the official College Board website, AP tests are “designed to measure how well you’ve mastered the content and skills of the course — a successful score could even earn you credit and advanced placement in college,” but if was meant to be a helpful option for students that wanted to get ahead, then why would it not be easily accessible to students who are not as financially able as others. This “non-profit” organization does make it easy for students who have the money to take AP tests, buy their AP prep books, or any other products they sell, but they do leave out the kids that cannot afford those things.

Just to add to this, College Board is said to be a nonprofit organization, meaning that they do not make any money off of the services that they provide. They were said to make a profit of $35 million dollars last year, just off of AP tests alone. If they had all of this money coming in, don’t you think that it would be more helpful if they could lower prices and make it more available to other students? Instead, they have raised the price this year from $93 to $94 dollars. Even though this might seem like it is a big increase, if students this year took the same amount of tests as last year (which it will most likely increase), that would result in College Board earning 4.9 million more dollars. That is without taking the costs of the tests and other expenses out, but that is a lot of money even after all the set-up left over, especially for a supposed non-profit organization.

This brings me to another point: The AP tests are a way to save money when students get into college because they get the chance to earn college credits beforehand for less. This is true, but there are many things that can stop this from happening. There is no standard within colleges on how they take AP scores. Every single college is different, and it is entirely based on what the student’s plans are for the future. This is a very unreasonable decision to ask of a student. If a freshman was trying to decide if they wanted to take an AP test, to make a reasonable decision they would have to decide what college they want to go to. That is an absurd decision to be made by a freshman, or really any other grade than a senior. Some colleges do not take AP tests scores, some only take them as elective credits, and some just allow you to take more advanced classes and students do not get any credit. Most people would think that if you paid the money and you scored high enough, you would be able to get credit for the class that you took a test on, but that is simply not the case for most schools.

And to top this off, students are expected to score a 4 or 5 on these tests for it to be even worth it. That is a very tall order just to take a test that costs a lot of money and may not be worth it based on a student’s future plans. Personally, that is too much to ask for. It is unfair and does not give equal options for students to get ahead. Yes, AP tests can be helpful, but is it worth it when all of these other factors are taken into consideration?

 

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About the Writer
Alexz Carpenter, Social Media Editor

Hello! My name is Alexz Carpenter and I am Social Media Editor for The Vision. I am from Laurel, Mississippi, and I used to attend Northeast Jones High...

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Carpenter: The Trouble with AP Tests”

  1. Kohl on March 10th, 2018 8:32 am

    Monopolies stink, and the College Board is no different. That said, the only students for which this discussion should mean anything, are those students that are considering taking an AP test and guess that they could make a four or five on the relevant test. For those students, my read of the game theory is your best bet is to go ahead and take the AP test, and then put your energy into changing your college or university’s standards, after you matriculate, to further deemphasize its reliance on College Board test scores. There is already something of a movement to do just that. Happy to contribute more if this is of interest.

  2. Lyle Barbato on March 11th, 2018 8:25 pm

    In my case, it was entirely worth it. Based on 4 4s and 2 5s, I earned 42 hours from my AP tests. (The college limit was supposed to be 30, but there was a newbie working during my intake who gave me credit for both algebra- and calculus-based physics.) (That’s 6 hours for Calc I&II, 6 hours for English I&II, 20 hours for Physics IA&IIA&IC&IIC, and 10 hours for Chemistry I&II.)

    And especially with class+book costs averaging well over $500 a class (and $1,000 for courses with labs), it is worth it.

    Even more importantly, that’s 4 months to 1 year of your life that you don’t need to waste rehashing stuff you already know (and you know it if you would have scored a 4 or 5).

    $100 isn’t much to have a chance to save a year of your life and $500. Unless you know your school doesn’t accept them, take them.

    My brilliant roommate had to take Integral over again since he skipped out on the AP test, and it was a waste of his time and a semester. Don’t be my roommate.

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