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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

MCPS to cover the cost of AP exams

Junior+Jasper+Goldstein+checks+his+AP+test+scores+from+May+2023.+With+MCPSs+recent+announcement+that+they+will+cover+the+cost+of+students+AP+tests+this+year%2C+students+and+their+families+will+save+%26%2336%3B98+per+test.
Photo by Joshua Singer
Junior Jasper Goldstein checks his AP test scores from May 2023. With MCPS’s recent announcement that they will cover the cost of student’s AP tests this year, students and their families will save $98 per test.

At the beginning of this school year, MCPS announced that they would be covering the costs of students’ AP (Advanced Placement) and IB (International Baccalaureate) exams for the 2023-2024 school year as long as they were enrolled in the course during the academic year.

At WJ alone, 77% of students took at least one AP exam last year according to US News & World Report. With the cost of each AP exam being $98 this year (except for Seminar and Research) and late fees and cancellation fees each being $40, this move will save families hundreds of thousands of dollars at WJ alone. Overall, the policy will cost MCPS about $3.4 million.

At many colleges and universities, passing an AP exam means that a student has earned credit and does not have to retake that course in college. This saves students thousands of dollars allowing them to take other classes/graduate early, take advantage of other opportunities.

“I think that [covering the cost of AP Exams] is a brilliant idea. I think that that makes it a lot more accessible for all students in the county,” APEX-Reach coordinator and social studies teacher Katherine Simmons said. “I think it also encourages students to take the class seriously and to take the exam seriously knowing that they don’t have to pay for that exam and potentially, they can earn college credit or in some cases like in math or world language, a placement where they need to be in terms of in college taking a particular language or particular math level.”

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With many students taking multiple AP classes, the impact of the decision will be strong across multiple subject areas as students may become more inclined to take exams in classes in which they may not be as strong.

“I think it’s nice because now I don’t have to pay the $700 I would have had to pay [to take seven exams], so that’s good and it definitely will probably make people take the exam when they probably wouldn’t have,” junior Jasper Goldstein said.

The move will effectively take away the pressure these students have to study equally as hard for all exams they are taking and allow them to focus more on exams that they believe will benefit them more in the long run without paying for an exam that they may not do as well on.

“I think it’s fabulous because it takes the pressure off families of students who are taking multiple AP exams. Now they don’t have to necessarily choose. They can try them all. I think it’s a great thing, I hope it lasts,” assistant principal Regina Rodgriguez said.

While many are celebrating the savings that families will be getting from this new policy, others believe that the money could have been spent differently by MCPS.

“I think it’s fine. I don’t know if it is the right use of money … I would have everybody eat for free; that’s much more important than paying for AP exams, but I don’t know that those two budget line items would be similar. I think AP exams are probably not that expensive in the grand scheme of things and feeding everybody is probably very expensive. It’s nice that they did that, but I don’t know that it’s necessary, I think there are other priorities,” APEX-Reach coordinator and social studies teacher Nathan Schwartz said.

The announcement was made after classes had already been chosen and since it has not been announced whether the policy will continue in future years, it is unclear whether this will impact AP enrollment in the future.

“I think you might see a slight uptick, but I don’t know that it’s going to cause a huge rush of people that in this school wouldn’t have already been taking AP [classes] to begin with, because I feel like we do a lot at this school to encourage students to take AP [classes],” Simmons said.

Taking AP courses and exams is something that often helps bolster students’ applications and prepares them for college level courses. WJ already has a much higher percentage of students taking AP classes than the national average and that is something that the school is very proud of.

“I also think that even if you’re going to go to a school that doesn’t take AP exams, it looks really good if you’ve shown that you’ve challenged yourself in those classes and I think that overall, it’s going to encourage more students to take AP level classes. I believe strongly that especially at WJ, the teachers do a really good job of preparing students, and even if you aren’t successful in that class, there’s research to show that just having been exposed to an AP helps you in the future with other AP classes and with college classes and beyond,” Simmons said.

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Joshua Singer
Joshua Singer, Print Editor-in-Chief
Joshua Singer is a junior and is ecstatic to be a Print Editor-in-Chief in his second full year on The Pitch. In his free time, Josh enjoys running, playing guitar and announcing sports.
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