AP Exams: not so optional anymore


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Students are preparing to take their AP exams which will be this May. This year, teachers have been assigning alternative “mock exams” to students who have opted out of taking the actual test.

AP classes are tough; students want to challenge themselves academically and prepare themselves for college, but they also want to take classes in which they can succeed. In addition to the strenuous workload throughout the year, each class has a specific exam in the early weeks of May. This year, in many classes, alternative assignments are being assigned to students who chose to opt out of the exam.

This seems to make sense, at first. Students who choose not to take the exam have to complete an assignment to keep them busy during AP week, and to get an extra grade in the grade book. However, many teachers are using this assignment as a loophole to nearly force their students to take the appropriate exam for their class: some teachers are making this “alternative assignment” a full-length mock AP exam, the exact same amount of stress and rigor as the regular exam.

As a student, this can be very frustrating. If test taking is hard for you, why would you risk your actual grade in the class by taking a graded mock exam? Why wouldn’t you take the actual AP test and just not use the score? I understand that teachers want their students to use their knowledge to get college credit, but these exams are simply not for everyone.

If students choose not to take the AP exam, there is usually a legitimate reason: the college the student is attending might not accept the exam as credit, or the student might be a poor test taker. If the student is a senior, and they know that their college of choice doesn’t accept the AP exam for a specific course, there is absolutely no reason for them to take the exam. In addition, exams are $99.99 each this year, and for students who are taking multiple AP classes, exam costs can be very expensive.

Taking an AP exam, just a single one, is a big commitment: a lot of studying and preparation is needed to review a year’s worth of material.

A student’s registration for an AP class does not indicate that they want to/have to take the exam. The exam is supposed to be fully optional, and allow the student to decide whether or not they want to obtain college credit for that course. To be pressured into spending hundreds of dollars on tests a student doesn’t want to or need to take is a waste of time, effort and hard-earned money.