AP Unrest


A popular AP US History prep book

Shira Buchsbaum, Copy Editor/Writer

As AP tests approach, seniors and sophomores alike are beginning to panic about studying for their massive exams. Most sophomores only have one or two AP tests on their plates but some seniors have up to six tests to prepare for, a daunting task. With the pressure of studying mounting, some students are beginning to wonder if the exam is even worth their time.

Madison High School is one of few high schools in the area that requires AP students to undergo the standardized examination designed for their course in May. Most schools allow the students to choose whether or not they’d like to take the exam. Because AP tests cost $50-$85 each, many students of other districts who cannot afford to register for multiple exams choose to take only a select few exams or exempt themselves altogether.

The college application process has made seniors and juniors acutely aware of the costs of college and required college entry exams. SAT registration costs $50 and ACT registration ranges from $32-$52 and neither of these prices include prep courses, which range from $200-$2,000. After tests are taken, the College Board and the ACT offers to send the scores to colleges for free without releasing them to the student first. Most students, preferring to see their scores before sending them, elect to wait until the scores are released, at which point the companies charge students to send the scores.

The same applies to AP tests. The College Board charges $15 to send scores after they are released. As appreciative as colleges may be to receive more information about the qualifications of a student, many do not accept high AP scores (4-5) for credit in a given course. SAT Subject Test scores are often used for this purpose, rendering the AP tests irrelevant once again.

Oftentimes, the students who would potentially opt out of taking their AP tests are the students who believe they will not score highly. The lack of confidence in a subject material gives little incentive to take a test that will not count towards one’s grade, GPA, or college courses.

The AP exam arguably prepares students for a final exam at the conclusion of the school year yet most AP courses conclude the term with a final project rather than another exam. The exam does give insight into how a student compares to others taking the course but given the utility the exam otherwise lacks, it should be an optional test. Not only will this relieve the pressure on students studying for multiple exams but this choice will make the tests more economically viable and accessible to students.