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The Pros and Cons of the AP Exams

In recent years, Advanced Placement (AP) classes have become increasingly popular among high school students. Taking these college-level classes gives students the ability to earn college credits and be more prepared for what their work and classes will be like in college. In order to earn credit, though, a student must take and pass the AP exam, which is not an easy thing to do. Due to the difficulty and time that comes with preparing for an AP exam, the question comes of whether or not taking the AP exams is worth it.

Every year, the AP Program gains tons of interest and participation from high school students by offering a total of 38 different courses. Besides earning college credit, taking the AP exams can lead a student towards many other great opportunities for their future in college, such as getting a significant boost to their GPA, saving college tuition, earning scholarships, and gaining a better chance at admission to more competitive schools, as it shows that they can complete college-level work.

While there are many advantages and opportunities that come with taking AP exams, there are also just as many disadvantages and areas of it that come into question regarding whether they should be taken. Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization that reports on education across America, states that “Over the last two decades, a rapidly increasing number of students have taken and passed Advancement Placement exams,” but that “many more students are also taking those courses but failing the exams.”

The main problem with taking the AP exams is that if a student does not pass, they cannot earn college credit for the class they took. This does not seem exactly fair because the student still puts in time and effort into taking the class for an entire year and is taking the exam because they want to earn credit for college. Despite the hard work put into the class, not passing the test takes away the chance to earn credit for the class. While some colleges are starting to accept a score of a 3, most are still only accepting a 4 or 5, some even only being a 5, which can be very difficult for many to achieve.

Taking the AP exams can also overall be extremely overwhelming and time-consuming for students who still have to maintain their other schoolwork. Additionally, there is a large cost that comes with taking the exam that some cannot easily afford. There may be students who want to take the AP exam, but are not able to because the cost is too much for them to pay, especially if they are taking multiple courses. As of the 2021-2022 school year, the CollegeBoard states that “The fee is $96 per exam in the U.S.”

There are a lot of issues with the AP exam that should be fixed, but students still are willing to take them, as there are around 2 million high school students each year who participate in these exams. While there are both pros and cons that come with taking the AP exam, the cons ultimately outweigh the pros because there are only pros if a student is able to pass the exam, which not many are able to do so easily.

What needs to happen to make the AP exams worth taking is for the College Board to reduce costs and have colleges allow credit for taking the AP course, even if a student does not get a passing score. That way, a student can still try to take the exam, but all of their hard work towards earning college credit does not have to go to waste if they do not pass, since they still were able to complete a full year of a college-level class.


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