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HS Teacher asked AP Bio students - do you actually want to take the AP test

ShamrockLotusShamrockLotus 16 replies7 threads Junior Member
edited September 16 in Parents Forum
dd told me that her HS AP Bio teacher asked them to let her know whether they wanted to take the AP test or not. The teacher is experienced and oft-cited as a favorite among students. So I have no doubt that she will deliver a good class either way. Given the difficulties and limitations of an online school year I am wondering if it would in fact be better to skip the test this year if that means that the teacher will have more flexibility in planning what / how to teach.

I am wondering how much importance colleges place on APs this year due to the pandemic.
I think AP Bio is a pretty hard test that is hard to get a 5 in even in normal times. So it is a pretty big gamble on getting college credit.

Any opinions?
edited September 16
11 replies
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Replies to: HS Teacher asked AP Bio students - do you actually want to take the AP test

  • skieuropeskieurope 41675 replies8008 threads Super Moderator

    I am wondering how much importance colleges place on APs this year due to the pandemic.

    Importance of the exam? Same as every other year - not much unless using AP scores for the very few schools that allow them to be used in lieu of Subject Tests. Which is NYU and Georgetown.

    Not taking an exam will have zero impact on admissions.
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6816 replies10 threads Senior Member
    Our teachers often clarified at the beginning of the year that everyone would be testing. This was done to make sure that everyone was accountable to everyone else for maintaining the pace and the commitment to mastering the material. Iowa, that they all had the same goal. As one put it "I want to be teaching one class!"

    It is possible that this teacher was asking for the same reason. Hard to know without being there! But throwing that out there...
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 515 replies2 threads Member
    Check with the admissions websites of the schools your daughter's interested in if they accept AP credit for Biology. If so, then I recommend taking the test, as it can help reduce your general education requirements or allow you to place out of introductory Biology.

    With test-optional admissions, the lack of a SAT/ACT score means that having an AP/SAT Subject score, especially in your area of interest, is beneficial because it's another way to demonstrate academic strength: Admissions needs to be certain that you can and will succeed coursework-wise at their school before determining if you truly "fit" their school.

    Hope that helps! Good luck with admissions!
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2827 replies48 threads Senior Member
    As noted above, the test likely has very little importance to admissions, as usual, and the same importance as in the past for credit/acceleration, which varies by school. I suspect a 4 or 5 will still earn credit at many schools, so not much has changed,

    I’m curious what a teacher of AP Bio with students not taking the test would teach. Why would it be different? I would hope than any plans for an “easier” class would go away if even one student plans to take the test.

    Perhaps it’s just to coordinate the mechanics of registration. Or just curiosity. I suspect there are a few test-specific noN-content items are that teachers share I prep for the test. Our Calc teacher does 7:30a prep sessions for a couple of months before the exam - another reason to know how many are taking it (though this can be determined by the registration).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 84671 replies752 threads Senior Member
    Maybe the teacher had some days reserved for test prep and review that could be used for additional topics if no one wants to take the test?
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  • Tigerwife92Tigerwife92 207 replies3 threads Junior Member
    D20s school always asks because the school registers and pays for the exam. They want to know how many kids to budget for. Many kids in her school take the class for the grade bump, but don't take the exam because they want to major in bio or pre-med and plan to re-take bio in college.
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  • User2987456User2987456 70 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Last year (fall of 2019) the students had to register for their AP exams that they would take in the spring and the school paid. In past years that registration was always done just weeks before the exam. Following that same timeline, I am sure that is why the teacher was asking. The high school my kids went to required students to take the AP exam if the AP class was taken. That being said, we would have never skipped them. My kids all earned more than 30 college credits for their APs. AP exams that are taken in your junior year or prior will be self reported on most college applications and we were told on most college tours that they would be looked at in the review process. The exams they take in their senior year will not be used for admission consideration as they will commit to a school prior to taking the exam. In short I would never pass on taking the exam.
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  • ShamrockLotusShamrockLotus 16 replies7 threads Junior Member

    I am not sure what specifically would be the difference, all I know is that she said that it would determine whether she would "teach to the test."

    also - The school doesn't pay for the exams. I am not concerned about the exam fee, I am just wondering if the class might be more interesting if there was no test prep to worry about.
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  • PikachuRocks15PikachuRocks15 515 replies2 threads Member
    @ShamrockLotus As other commenters have pointed out, even if one student decides to take the exam, it's the teacher's responsibility (ideally) to prepare that student for anything and everything CollegeBoard expects students to know for the AP exam if the course is designated as "AP" (IIRC they have to submit copies of their syllabi for review, go to training etc.)
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 6816 replies10 threads Senior Member
    ^ It might also be less rigorous or cover less material.

    "Teaching to the test" has a negative connotation-- as in "not really mastering the material or thinking about it creatively but knowing how to answer the questions ". But in a more positive way, it means covering a certain body of knowledge that is supposed to align with a first seminar class in college.

    I think it's fair for your D to ask how the class will be different if nobody is taking the test.
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  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU 14592 replies107 threads Forum Champion
    There is no downside to taking an AP test and not doing well...AP tests aren't used in admissions...only if you get credit or not.
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