Should AP testing be required in schools?

Due+to+the+amount+of+paper%2C+College+Board+has+recently+turned+to+some+AP+tests+being+electronic.
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Should AP testing be required in schools?

Due to the amount of paper, College Board has recently turned to some AP tests being electronic.

Due to the amount of paper, College Board has recently turned to some AP tests being electronic.

Photo Credit: Kelly Branco

Due to the amount of paper, College Board has recently turned to some AP tests being electronic.

Photo Credit: Kelly Branco

Photo Credit: Kelly Branco

Due to the amount of paper, College Board has recently turned to some AP tests being electronic.

By: Kelly Branco, Art & Music Editor

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AP testing happens every year and is the source of stress for many students. Although, many schools have different requirements for taking these AP tests. Colonia High School offers many Advanced Placement (AP) classes and requires students in these classes to take the standardized test in place of a final for their class.

AP Testing at Colonia High School

Colonia High School offers many Advanced Placement courses, from AP French to AP Environmental Science. There is a class in almost every subject and is offered to anybody. This is valuable for any student who wants to challenge themselves in their favorite subjects. Although, Colonia High School counselors have a tendency to force students to take AP courses. As a four-year student of this school, I have heard the phrase “they made me take this class” too many times when it comes to AP.

Colonia High School also has a tendency to push students to take as many AP courses as possible. An AP course requires more attention and study time than any other course. These classes according to the Woodbridge Township Program of Studies are supposed to help you in college and get a higher score on the SAT’s, which is a standardized test to see your readiness for college. The handbook states: “Your chances for higher achievement on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT’s) and greater success in college studies will be enhanced if you enroll in challenging and rigorous courses and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.”

I conducted a survey at Colonia High School. I asked students various questions about whether they have actually taken an AP test before and how they feel about the school requiring students to take AP tests. In Colonia High School any student who is in an AP course must take the CollegeBoard’s AP test instead of taking the final. If a student does not want to take the AP test or cannot, they have to take the final for the class. This seems fair, but most students take the AP test… Why is that?

The Survey

This survey was conducted over a course of three weeks. Seventy-two students of Colonia High School participated in the survey and half have taken an AP test. 77.8% of students were female and 22.2% were male. 45.8% of these students were in the 12 grade, 18.1% in grade 11, 27.8 in grade 10, and 8.3% in grade 9. This survey had mixed responses the data wasn’t what I expected.

Students that haven’t taken an AP test before

50% of the participants haven’t taken an AP test before, that is 36 students of the 72. This ruled out half of the participants and of those 36 students, 21 of them have never been in an AP class before.

Students that have taken the AP test before

36 of the participants have taken the AP test before, most of them have only taken one AP class before. This, in my opinion, is understandable. One AP class is enough for the normal high school student to handle, even a student in the 9 grade (CHS offers only one AP class to 9 grade students). But what really shocked me was that two of the participants took more than six AP classes this year. That’s the equivalent of six college courses. For a high schooler, this is too much. I don’t think that our school should let a student take that many AP classes. Students should only take three at most. AP’s are stressful and take up lots of time that students don’t have with extracurriculars and homework to do.

College and AP Tests

By taking these AP tests students are supposed to get credits for college. When a student receives a high enough score colleges are supposed to take that into account and let the student skip that course in college. But, many of these AP classes students are taking don’t even count towards their major. 19.44% of the participants claimed that none of their AP courses will help them with their college major.

I’m not saying that none of these AP courses will help students with their college preparedness. Some of these AP classes are compatible with colleges. 22.22% of the students claimed that 3 of their courses will help them with their college major. But, these classes will only help them if they get a high enough score on the AP test. Most colleges don’t accept scores above a 4 or a 5 depending on the college. For a high school student, these scores are very hard to obtain. Most students in the survey have scored only a 3 as their highest score on an AP test.

Also, teachers teach differently, with any subject and any material. I doubt that these AP high school teachers are teaching their classes the same way as professors in prestigious colleges. It’s probably not beneficial to a student to skip a college course seeing as college teaches things differently.

Stress

Any AP course, no matter what causes students stress. The constant workload and learning on your own is enough to drive a person to exhaustion. Many of the participants claimed that they were stressed. On a scale of one to five on how stressed they were when studying for their AP tests, the largest answer was a four. That’s super stressed, and imagine six AP tests. That’s too many.

We shouldn’t require AP tests

In Colonia High School, a student is required to take an AP test, for all their AP classes. These tests cost money. Our district was nice enough to give us one AP test for free, which is why many students take the AP test. Fourteen students of the 36 claimed this is why they took the test. But, they probably only have one or two AP tests. Any test after this can cost about 90 dollars. Imagine a student paying for four or more AP tests. The cost is ridiculous and on top of it, if the student doesn’t get a good enough score, what’s the point of taking the test?

If an AP test is required to be taken, are students really going to be serious when taking these tests? No. Although the data I collected says otherwise, I believe something different. When asked how serious they were when taking their AP test 39% claimed they were very serious. This year I took my AP Lang exam and many of the kids in that room definitely didn’t care about the test. They received it for free, so they just put whatever so they didn’t have to take the final exam and their GPA wouldn’t be impacted.

If a student is required to do something and they don’t want to do it, then they won’t try. It’s logic. If these tests are required then students won’t really care and not get high scores.

Overall

So should we require AP tests for students? Out of the 36 participants 20 of them said no, that’s more than half of the participants. Six said yes and the other 10 were on the fence. Some claimed that it should be offered and not required. I agree with that statement; in no way do I think that AP tests should not be offered at Colonia High School or any other high school for that matter. I think that AP classes are beneficial to students if they like the material. It shouldn’t be a marker to how ready for college a student is. Teachers and counselors should not force students to take an AP class if they don’t want to. I did like all my AP classes because I genuinely enjoyed the material of my classes but I know some people who did not.

 

 

 

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