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Do AP Tests Really Matter?

Kelsey Williams, Business Manager
April 25, 2011

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It seems excessive to dedicate an entire school year to one test. Teacher and student stress, rushed lectures, extra homework, and constant dread of the tests often result from Advanced Placement (AP) classes. On top of all this, you pay about $90 per test at the end of the year. This hassle that accompanies AP tests raises the question: do AP tests even matter?

Although, as a second semester senior I would like to believe that AP tests do not matter, this is just not true. After some research, much to my dismay, AP tests can, in fact, end up saving money and time, and offer benefits in the long run.

Despite the stressful disadvantages, a great advantage also comes with AP tests that makes it all worthwhile: college credits. Getting a college course out of the way not only saves your time, but also saves a lot of your money. At the Harvard School of Public Health, one average credit is $876. At the University of Oregon, one credit is $579 for resident students.

No matter which college you attend, credits are costly and if given the opportunity to pay $90 instead of $876, why wouldn’t you? After getting a five on the AP Biology test, one student ended up saving $10,500 at NYU based on the number of units he received.

Scholar awards should also be considered when signing up for AP tests. The AP Scholar award is granted to students who receive a three or higher on three or more AP exams. There are nine more AP awards available, with more extensive requirements than the AP scholar award. Although there is no monetary reward, winners receive an award certificate and this achievement is noted by colleges on your applications.

However, what benefit would any scholar award on a college application serve for a second semester senior who already knows where they are going to school by the time of the AP exam? Nothing really, except if you are wait-listed and wind up appealing to get in. Great AP scores could be what tips things in your favor. For those who were not wait-listed, AP scores do not have to be sent to colleges.

Taking time to study for an AP exam is probably worth it in the end. As a Miramonte student, receiving a four or five is not a terribly difficult feat. The composite scores, consisting of both the multiple-choice and free-response sections, are then equated, a statistical technique for translating scores into AP scores, which dramatically curves the scores. In order to get a five on the Calculus BC AP test, one needs to score an actual 59% on the test. A 54% on the Physics AP test will get you a five, and a 68% will also score a five on the Statistics AP test.

In other words, taking a couple extra hours to study could save huge amounts of money in the future, meaning that AP tests really do matter. If you’re on the fence about taking a daunting AP exam, consider the time and money you could save.

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