AP Exams Should Be Optional for Students

Emily Martin

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  It’s that time of year again. Teachers getting in their last minute preps, students burying their noses in their books—that’s right, it’s AP week. But long before the exams come around, students are already getting worried. In November, students get an e-mail in their school accounts:

  “Dear Student and Guardians,

It is Walpole High School’s policy that enrollment in an AP course requires taking the AP Examination. The AP Examination is provided by the CEEB (College Entrance Exam Board) and given at Walpole High School in May. Any student who fails to pay for and/or take the exam will be removed from the AP Course. Colleges to which he/she has applied will be so informed.

The cost is $95.00 per exam and payment is due by Friday, February 3, 2017.”

  Unlike many other schools, including Westwood High, Walpole High School requires its students to take an AP exam if they take an AP course. While the school’s efforts may be well-intentioned, this policy is flawed, and as such, it should not be mandatory for AP students to take their AP exam at the end of the year.

For one, many colleges do not even accept AP credit from high school courses, and students will be required to retake the class in college. As a result, many students feel less motivated to put in their full effort for the exam or simply view the exam as a waste of their time. After all, why should high schoolers be forced to pay for an exam that won’t even benefit them in the future? If the school is going to force students to take the AP exam, then they should pay for the exam itself—especially since the cost of AP exams brings about major financial concerns.

  With each exam costing a whopping $95, parents and students have no choice but to pay due to Walpole’s policy. As families are trying to save up for the upcoming college years, these AP exams do take their toll on a family’s wallet—especially when the AP exams don’t count towards college credit in the future. In other words, parents are forking over money and getting nothing in return.

  Lastly, the policy also states that if a student opts out of taking the exam for an AP course, then the student will be removed from the class. This takes away from the purpose of taking an AP class in the first place; AP courses are offered for students who want to challenge themselves or pursue a certain subject in depth than the traditional high school courses allow. Why punish students who take AP courses for the right reasons?

  Walpole High needs to revise their AP exam policy for future years. With other nearby high schools to model after, students should be allowed the choice of whether or not they want to take the exams. Some colleges do still take AP credit, and students should have the opportunity to take the exam if they wish to do so. With a new policy like such in place, students would have more freedom to explore their AP course and focus less on the exam. After all, a passion for learning is what every school strives to instill in their students. Let’s not ruin that passion with something as frivolous as an exam that may not even impact anything in a student’s life.