AP Testing

AP Testing

By Mariah Grifford, Staff Writer

The end of the school year is nearing and everyone — especially seniors — is counting down the days until summer, but before graduation arrives, there is AP testing to get through.

For two weeks, students will test for hours at a time in a grueling attempt to earn college credit. AP, or Advanced Placement, is a program run by the College Board that allows high school students to take college-level classes and earn credit. You do not have to be in an AP class to take the test for a subject; however, it does help if you want to pass.

Tests are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 with passing scores usually being 3’s or higher, but certain colleges may differ on their requirements and may demand higher scores for students to earn any credits. In fact, some universities, like Brown and the California Institute of Technology, will not give credit for any AP tests.

Nicholas Branagan, a senior who has taken six AP classes, thinks that “everyone should try to do AP if they have the chance.” While he qualifies that statement by saying, “I know some people can not afford AP tests, and others do not have the time for AP classes and AP work,” he believes that “If you have the opportunity, you should definitely do it.” Fortunately, AP tests have not been as much of a financial burden for the past three years. AP tests in this school district have only been $5 per test instead of the usual $94.

Hannah Sutton, a junior who is taking three AP tests this year said that there is, “no way” she would take all three tests if she had to pay the full price for each. After all, it would be almost $300. The $89 cost difference is covered by “targeted” funds for college and career readiness. Funding AP testing is a priority in this school district, and, according to Mr. Mercier, the school principal, “As long as we have ‘targeted’ LCAP funding, this will continue.”

In the last five years, Quartz Hill has almost tripled the number of AP tests administered. This year, approximately 700 students are taking a grand total of 1600 AP exams. Interestingly enough, for eight of the twenty exams administered at Quartz Hill, more students are taking the AP test than there are in the corresponding AP classes. Another ten exams have 90% to 100% of the students in the class taking the test. Only two tests, US Government and Computer Science Principles, have significantly fewer students taking the class and not the test.

The main reason for this dramatic increase is enhanced accessibility. First, all prerequisites for AP classes were eliminated. Students can now take AP classes regardless of their grade history in previously completed classes. Additionally, students no longer have to take certain AP classes before being able to take the corresponding test. This, in combination with the extremely reduced price for tests, has allowed far more students to take AP classes and exams. While there was a concern that increasing the accessibility to AP classes and tests would be detrimental to the success of the program, students have risen to the occasion. Mr. Mercier holds that “Since we have opened access and reduced the fee to $5, the pass rate has not dropped despite a large number of exams administered.”

In general, students are being well prepared for AP testing in their classes. The material is covered in class and students are developing the proper test-taking skills by going through mock exams. Practice tests are occasionally offered on Saturdays and after school on Wednesdays. Mrs. Manthey, who teaches AP Biology, says the purpose of practice exams is for students to “Roughly see their score and be encouraged to study. If you get a three on a practice test you can study a little bit harder and get a four.” Mr. Herman, who teaches AP Calculus AB and BC, always reminds his classes that the test is about grit. You can not just be able to do calculus, you have to be ready to handle all three hours and fifteen minutes of it.

It is hard to contest that AP classes are difficult, but most if not all students will agree that they are worth it. Rebecca Perez said, “I get to learn about everything about the world. Sometimes the work is a bit too much, but it is for a reason: to prepare me for college.” And, really, not just for college, but for the life awaiting after the diploma.