To AP or not AP?

As AP season rolls in, are the tests worth the pain and price?


Bryte Bu

Junior Daniel Lillard studies for his upcoming AP exams, which are scheduled to run May 4 to May 15.

As May slowly creeps up on unsuspecting students, AP tests are here. While these tests have no direct impact on kids’ grades, succeeding on them can earn future college-goers college credit. On the downside, each test costs $92. Those who have taken AP classes will no doubt recount some horror stories of grueling coursework and late nights over the year in preparation for the three hour and 15 minutes of testing time. On the more positive side, kids who take many successful AP tests can graduate early from college, which can save thousands of dollars in tuition.

AP tests are graded on a scale of 1-5. Many colleges will accept a score of four or five as a passing college credit. However, some prestigious schools may only take a score of five, and some schools do not take AP tests as credits. Students receive a four or five based on a bell curve of the average scores of all the students taking the test for that specific year.

There are still many factors one should consider before deciding whether or not to take a certain AP test. The first factor should be class performance. While a better class grade does not always mean higher performance on the actual AP test, it could give a large confidence boost, which is always vital in a testing environment.

Another factor is how many total AP tests are being considered. A student who is already taking three AP tests may opt out of a fourth, especially if he or she does not expect a very high score on the fourth one.

Teachers are also great resources for deciding whether or not to take a certain AP test.

“I’m taking three this year,” said Daniel Lillard, junior. “I usually decide to take an AP test if I am taking the class. College credit is really nice, but the cost of the tests can be really expensive. Taking a test in general is kind of a drag.”

Others still decide to take all of them, even if the tests add up in expense.

“I have four AP tests,” said Chandler Bachman, junior. “To me, these tests are a good way to show how prepared I am for college. I think these tests are more expensive than they need to be.”

It seems that taking multiple AP tests are quite common for some students, especially upperclassmen. The major complaints stem mostly from the hefty costs of the tests, which can be burdensome for kids taking a handful of tests.

AP classes in general are a good way of experiencing a little bit of college curriculum while in high school. They can be challenging and frustrating, but they can help kids gain more confidence as they enter college. The other consideration for students to keep in mind is that enrolling in an AP course does not mean that student has to take the AP exam.

Good luck to all those taking AP tests in the following weeks.