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AP tests at Boarding School

CC4lifeCC4life 244 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
edited July 8 in Prep School Cafe
I've seen a lot of threads regarding how a school's AP curriculum, or lack thereof, will affect college apps, but I haven't seen any threads regarding the AP tests that are needed for college credit. Considering that a lot of NE boarding schools don't officially offer AP classes or follow AP curriculum, I was wondering whether students would even take the AP tests after completing the equivalent of that course at boarding school? If so, do the schools offer all the AP tests during the 2 week testing period or do students have to individually schedule each test? Additionally, would it even be worth putting in the effort to take the AP tests and self study sections that were not taught during the course or would we be better of spending that time in classes or working on actual homework, ECs, etc? Any insight or experience from boarding school students, parents, alums would be really helpful. Thanks!
edited July 8
12 replies
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Replies to: AP tests at Boarding School

  • skieuropeskieurope 38898 replies6872 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited July 8
    From my own experience, yes, kids take AP tests. My school ordered the tests, and in fact, ordered tests for many kids not attending that school. They would also order any test offered even if the school did not offer a course remotely similar. Other schools may vary.

    Whether it is "worth it" is an individual choice.
    edited July 8
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • CC4lifeCC4life 244 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @skieurope Thank you so much for your response. Did you find that even though the classes didn't follow AP curriculum, it essentially covered the same topics as required by college board, give or take a few lessons, or did it usually require a lot of self studying for the tests even if students took the equivalent/near equivalent of the designated AP classes? Did it vary depending on the teacher or class?
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  • skieuropeskieurope 38898 replies6872 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited July 8
    Did it vary depending on the teacher or class?
    It really depends upon the teacher and the class and the school.

    In general, for example, calculus is calculus. There's not much innovation one can do to teach the topic (there is, but I'm simplifying). Often, the school (whether a teacher or adviser) will give guidance as to what courses align closely, which will require some additional work on the student's part, and which AP exams should be avoided unless the student wants to do a lot of extra work. In some cases, the teacher will assist, either as part of the class, or as outside help, but again, that varies.

    I will also add, there is no expectation from any college that a student take AP exams if the school does not offer the course. The exams will not enhance a college application. Every college is well aware than many boarding schools have eliminated or cut back on AP offerings. So the only reason to take the exam is for potential college credit/placement (or sense of accomplishment, which is not really a valid reason to spend whatever AP exams cost these days, IMO).
    edited July 8
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5608 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Our school did offer AP and IB classes so ordered the tests and offered them on campus. The practice will vary from school to school.

    Note that while only some colleges will give credit for AP/IB exams, many give placement for them. I am in the camp that they have great value in allowing students to skip college courses in areas that don't interest them but may be required (FL, for example.) My kid, with hindsight, would say it's definitely worth it to put in that little bit of extra effort for the AP - especially if the alternative is taking a variant of the class again in college when the course catalog is filled with options that are far more attractive.

    But as you probably already know, you'll get your best answers from students at your school.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1004 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    FWIW many students we know took the AP exams for subjects where the classes were not offered. They studied for the tests (in addition to studying for finals)and then spent the final day of school in the exam room. As explained above, there are different reasons why students do this. I am hoping that colleges will know the rigor and policies of those schools that do not offer many (or any) AP classes. Let us know your experience and if it was a good experience.
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  • vegas1vegas1 557 replies2 threadsRegistered User Member
    @Golfgr8 our daughter who just graduated PEA took one AP test last minute with no prep- she did awful. PEA does not have any formal AP classes. She did not submit her score to any colleges and had plenty of great acceptances. It seems that the colleges that she applied and was accepted to did not hold it against her in any way.
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1004 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thanks @vegas1 for sharing your story and congratulations to your daughter! Hoping that one day we can stop the craziness of over testing our kids! I salute the schools/administrators who are taking a stand on this and offer them a free round of golf to salute them!⛳️
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1351 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If a BS doesn't have an AP course (which follows the AP curriculum) they might suggest students take the test based on a number of factors.
    My kid was taking an honors course. The teacher said if you are getting an A, you should probably take it with minimal review, A- spend a little time and so on down to B+ where it was suggested students not take the test. I don't know about other AP variances. It seems many schools are moving away from APs or only offer them in the popular subject areas. We also know of kids who self study ( this is particularly true of unusual subjects). Don't know how any of them have done.
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  • CC4lifeCC4life 244 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited July 10
    @Golfgr8 I totally agree with the excessive standardized testing of students and the necessity to decrease it. Nevertheless, Loomis still suggested I take the AP tests, depending on how I do in the courses labeled as college level. The academic office said if I do good, then great! I can send that score to colleges, if not, that's okay too, I can cancel it or not send a score report at all." I personally think the shift away from AP in the Boarding/prep school world will really allow teachers to teach the material the way they see fit--not the way the overlords at College Board see fit, but alas, that is a topic for a different thread 😂.
    edited July 10
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  • Golfgr8Golfgr8 1004 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Thanks @CC4life and @Happytimes2001 for your posts, as well as your insights!
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1741 replies34 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    FWIW, the list of colleges that don't require standardized testing for admission is growing every year... and there are some pretty impressive names on the list, too!

    http://fairtest.org/university/optional
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1351 replies10 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    While there is definitely a push for no testing in various parts, if your kid does well on tests and can demonstrate it then it makes sense for them ( or not -one has to decide). Many of the schools are waiving tests so they can get students who may not apply otherwise ( broaden the pool of candidates so to speak). If a kid has attended a BS, s/he likely has taken lots of tests. I'm not a fan of schools that waive test scores as I know that not all schools are equal. It says a lot more about the admin and perspective than anything else. It's fine it they give more/less weight. But if they are not counting scores than I think my BS kid would suffer negatively. A lot has been written on this subject. I'm not a fan of throwing out the only factor which normalizes scores nation wide. Having a basis to compare apples and apples is needed.

    I'm not a fan of taking too many AP's, as I believe it creates too much work and too little deep diving into areas of interest. However, kids need to have a plan around what they are going to do and how many tests they plan to take. I think many BS have deep knowledge in this area and can advise their students based on individual needs.
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