Testing in progress

Aspen Earnhart, Reporter

May 1st. Sweaty palms, racing heart. The dreaded three hours of Scantron sheets and silence. You’ve been preparing for this day for months now, and suddenly you’ve forgotten everything you know. Well, I guess it’s time to start applying for Clown College.

   You’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. (If you know, then I am very sorry.) I’m talking about AP tests, probably one of the scariest things you’ll experience in high school. Imagine, the ACT-but with a $93 price tag hanging in the balance. There’s a lot of confusion about AP classes, how they work, and what they’re really for. Will they count at my dream college? Is it worth the money? Is my score good enough?

   For those of you]] who may not know, AP stands for Advanced Placement. They’re designed to simulate intro college classes, with a “low-priced” test at the end that could earn you college credit. This test is graded on a 0-5 scale, with most schools accepting a 3 or higher as a “pass”.

   Princetonreview.com states, “Some students are able to skip the entire first year of college in this way [AP tests], thus cutting the entire cost of their college education by one-quarter.”

   AP classes often also correspond to core classes required for graduation. Taylorsville High offers an AP version of 10th-12th-grade history, 11th-12th grade English, all 3 years of lab science, and even more. There’s also no requirements to join AP classes- anyone can try, but it’s often required that you have a signature from your current teacher or the teacher of that class to register.

   You can take a class, get college credit, and all you need to do is take a test?! That sounds like a great offer, doesn’t it? While AP classes can get you credit in college, it isn’t always guaranteed. Some colleges only give credit for certain courses, and some may require a score of 4 or 5 to get credit. Some colleges might not even recognize your test scores as credit. The important thing is to be aware what possible colleges’ policies are.

If you don’t know for sure, Apstudent.collegeboard.org has a Credit Policy database where you can search colleges throughout the country and find their AP credit policies. For example, the University of Utah grants credit for almost every course offers, with a passing score of 3. More prestigious schools,  like Harvard or NYU, require 4’s and 5’s.

   Onto the next question: are AP tests worth the money? AP tests cost $93 at Taylorsville or $53 for students eligible for the fee waiver. Either way, that probably seems like quite a bit of money to spend on a test.

“If you pass an exam that is eligible for college credit at the school you end up attending, the cost can definitely be worth it – that $93 could pay for a course that runs in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars,” says prepscholar.com.

Whether you’re a diehard AP kid, or just want to test the waters out, the most important thing is to be aware of college policies and understanding the workload you might be signing up for. Don’t be afraid to ask your counselors with any questions, and when in doubt- explore the College Board’s website.