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Does your kid's high school require AP exams?


Replies to: Does your kid's high school require AP exams?

  • goodjobgoodjob Registered User Posts: 70 Junior Member
    My boys' school makes them take the AP tests and we have to pay for them which gets extremely expensive. But for me the biggest issue is the quality of the teacher. Why pay for a test and sit through it when you know the teacher has not prepared the kids well enough. College Board is a money machine!
  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 Registered User Posts: 1,655 Senior Member
    "how do you figure a $90 test to be expensive when a class at a private school can easily cost thousands of dollars?"

    It is a good deal for the kid (if they put some effort into it), but what I meant was that it is expensive for the school. It seems the "HS prestige factor"/outcome is similar whether they force kids to take the test and use the carrots or the sticks OR just let self-selected motivated students to voluntarily pay for and take the exam. Either way will likely yield a high percentage of test takers performing at 3+ that they can brag about on their School Profile, but the second option costs the school very little. Of course colleges don't give credit for 1s or 2s (in many cases not even a 3), so that's money down the drain.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 16,663 Senior Member
    Yes the AP exam was required at my kids’ high school if you signed up for an AP class. The AP exam replaced a traditional “final exam.”
  • bgbg4usbgbg4us Registered User Posts: 1,168 Senior Member
    No, not required at our HS unless the AP class was also taken as a dual enrollment class. I'm glad; why spend that money if the college you're interested in won't take the AP credit?

    and to the other question - why take the class if you're not going to take the test -- good question. For us, my kiddos did that a few times because that AP class wasn't offered as a regular class (eg: AP art history, AP physics, AP music theory) the subject was of interest, but the credits wouldn't help in college for their majors. (or in one case, there was a well-loved, but bad teacher!)
  • MWolfMWolf Registered User Posts: 1,011 Senior Member
    @roycroftmom Kids at my daughter's school have a very good track record for doing well enough on the AP tests to receive credit, so I think that their AP classes are doing a pretty good job in teaching kids the AP material.

    Most kids who take AP classes do so because of the opportunity to get college credit, and most colleges will give a kid credit for AP scores.

    Another thing is that it's easier to get a 5 on the AP exam than it is to get an A in an AP exam. In many AP exams, a 69% will get you a 5, but performing at that level will be unlikely to get you an A in AP Calc BC.

    As for "half the class failed the test", I hope you realize that there are AP courses in which almost half the students, or more, across the USA who take the test get less than 3. For example, 47% of all kids who take AP USGP score less than 3, as do 48% of all kids who take APUSH, 52% of all kids who take AP Environmental Science, 52% for AP English Lit & Comp, and 59% of all kids who take AP Physics I. Most of the rest have "failure" rates of 35%-45%. Only in art and language APs (except Latin) are the number of kids who get less than three 3 small, as well as in advanced science and math AP courses (because of extreme self-selection). So unless the class had a 50% failure rate in AP Spanish or AP Chinese, I wouldn't read much into the "half the class failing".
  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 Registered User Posts: 1,043 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    @Luanne "S22 is in 1 AP now and if he opts not to take the AP test, he must take the final exam in the class. If he takes the AP test, the final is optional."

    Are the results of the AP exam factored in to the final course grade? For example, you have an "A" going in to the final but chose to take the AP exam (and no final), what happens if you bomb the AP exam (get a 1), is that score factored in to the final course grade?

    btw - at our HS you have to take the final exam and taking the AP exam is optional but the class is mostly geared towards preparing you for the AP exam ("teach to the test"). The grading system is 5.0 if you take honors/AP classes. So many top students have a weighted 4.5+ and 4.0 unweighted GPA. Scores on the AP exam have no bearing on grade point average.

    My last point is that getting all 4 and 5's on AP exams might give you a small admissions boost when applying to college. Another reason to take the AP exams (freshman through junior years).
  • YnotgoYnotgo Registered User Posts: 3,935 Senior Member
    No, no requirement from the schools here to take AP tests. Mid-to-large size California publics.

    California has a no-pay-to-play law that would make requiring payment for a test to get HS credit or grade bump illegal. Public schools that want to require the tests would have to cover the cost for all students, not just low-income.

    The grades in our AP classes are completely separate from the AP tests, and there is no retroactive bump. AP classes are weighted, but there is generally no honors option if there is an AP for that subject (except Chemistry, which has honors and AP options).

    Also no requirement to take IB tests for IB classes taken a la carte.

    My son took 6 AP tests senior year despite getting no AP credit at Caltech. Students admitted to Caltech receive email from Caltech stating that failing to take AP tests that they listed as "planned" on their application is a violation of Caltech's honor code, because planned APs are taken into consideration in admissions. ("No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community." and applicants are considered "members of the community") He was taking 3 AP classes, listed 5 as planned, and took 6 tests. (He learned the Microeconomics material while on an Econ Challenge team.)
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 2,058 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    Son’s Silicon Valley pressure cooker high school did not require students to take AP tests for the classes. And no grade replacement if the student got a 5. Plus final for the class 2nd semester before the AP test was mandatory regardless of whether the student took the test or not.

  • momofzagmomofzag Registered User Posts: 640 Member
    edited February 11
    Yes at our public hs you had to take the exam to get credit/bump to gpa for advanced course. We had to pay for them as well. There was scholarship $$ for those with financial need
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 31,929 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    @skieurope the reason you take the exam even though your college won't give you credit, because sometimes live throws you curve balls. I know a number of students who have left their original college for one reason or another and the new college had much more generous policies about accepting AP credits. Eons ago, I got a semester's worth of credits from Columbia's grad school in Architecture because I had more credits than I needed to graduate from Harvard and took a number of graduate level courses. Part of the reason I had extra credits was the AP courses I had taken.

    FWIW our school required students to take the exam, and I think we paid for them in the fall, long before anyone had heard that they'd been accepted at any particular college. Our school will pay for the test for anyone on free or reduced lunch, and would probably pay if you asked. I think requiring the test also makes it clear which teachers are capable of teaching the courses and which aren't. Most of the teachers had excellent pass rates. (75%+ with 4s and 5s.)
  • maya54maya54 Registered User Posts: 2,023 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    Nope. And no way no how was my kid who knew she’d get no credit for the exam going to take any her senior year. She had a fabulously fun second semester! I fully supported this. Our school also had no finals for second semester seniors which was awesome!
  • atomomatomom Registered User Posts: 4,642 Senior Member
    edited February 12
    No requirement at our top public high schools. Testing is encouraged, but it is up to students/parents to choose/pay to test. Sometimes kids will cancel after they register for an AP test because they feel unprepared. (A teacher thanked my son for cancelling a test--teachers like to keep up their averages, too!) Somestimes students will pay for both dual enrollment credits and AP exams for the same course because they don't know which will get them more credit at their (still unknown) college. Testing or not testing doesn't affect weighted grades. AP classes are all weighted and may have their own final exams--varies by teacher/course. No grade bump for getting a 5.
  • My3KiddosMy3Kiddos Registered User Posts: 458 Member
    My public high school requires you to bend over backwards to complete a waiver if you aren't going to take the AP exam. The pressure is pretty bad, but I've been able to bend without breaking on this one. My kiddo was going to have three exams in two days and one of her AP classes was actually dual-enrollment with the local university, so we just went with the dual enrollment credit.
  • ProudpatriotProudpatriot Registered User Posts: 1,545 Senior Member
    My kids went to a private school. In order to receive AP weighting on your transcript you had to take the AP exam. If you took an AP class and did not take the exam the weighting of the class went to Honors weighting. Plus you had to take a final for the class, which counted towards your final grade (AP exam did not).
  • mom2andmom2and Registered User Posts: 2,713 Senior Member
    While not a requirement and not factored into the grade, it is expected that kids take the AP test, especially at grades below senior year. While colleges may not hold it against a kid, it may raise a red flag if a kid takes 5 AP courses and no AP tests. My oldest did not take the AP lang test as a senior since the college he was attending did not give credit for english classes and required a freshman writing class. He did take the others, even though I don't think it ended up helping much in terms of credit. My youngest got out of taking calculus by his AP score.

    In our state, the number of AP exams given and the percent passing is one factor in rankings by a local magazine. I am not sure what would happen if a lot of kid opted out of the exams. The students are well prepared and virtually all pass on most tests, with many getting 4s and 5s.
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