What is the Point of AP Exams?


Alex Peto, Advertising Editor

AP exams starting in less than one week has many students feeling stressed and overwhelmed trying to prepare. These are multiple hour, college-level exams that test students on the content of the corresponding AP course, and are all organized and run by the College Board. Exams are scored on a scale of 1-5 by appointed professors and teachers and scores come out early July. If you are one of the many students taking one or more exams, you may have asked yourself, what even is the point of taking AP exams and what do they count for? Don’t worry, you are not alone in asking this.

One of the biggest reasons for taking AP exams is that high enough scores can be counted for college credit. In some schools, this allows students to skip certain introductory courses, which then frees up space in their schedules for other classes that they may be more interested in. This also opens up the possibilities of adding a second major or minor or graduating early, along with Most colleges only accept scores of 4 or 5 in exchange for college credit. However, all colleges are different and it is definitely a good idea to be aware of what scores your top colleges accept going into AP classes and exams. Some colleges don’t accept any scores at all. However, According to the College Board, three out of every four AP students enrolled in four-year college programs start college with some AP credit. It is also important to note that AP courses only count towards college if you take the exam in May. Taking an AP class alone does not count for college credit. Additionally, it is an option for students to take an AP exam without taking the corresponding course. This just makes it the student’s responsibility to prepare themselves for the exam. 

Additionally, the taking of an AP course and exam is impressive to many colleges, as it shows that the student is capable of college level work and testing. Success in AP courses and exams can help students stand out to colleges during the admissions process and can open up grant and scholarship opportunities. In fact, 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience positively impacts admissions decisions. It is also helpful for preparing students for the work they will encounter in college and can help to increase chances of success with this work. Keep in mind, though, that AP exam results have no impact on students’ high school grades or GPAs. 

AP exams are not mandatory and some students choose not to take some or all of the exams for their AP classes. There are a variety of reasons for this and it usually depends on the individual. The exams can be very stressful and time consuming to prepare for and take, especially on top of an already rigorous schedule and workload. Furthermore, the steep price of about $94 per exam can make some students wary of dumping so much money on exams not guaranteed to gain them college credit, especially in courses they may not feel very confident in. At the end of the day, AP exams are not life or death and they certainly do not make or break one’s chances of getting into college. Thus, it is up to each individual student to determine whether or not they want to take AP exams. At this point in the year, however, students already know whether or not they have AP exams on the near horizon. If you are one that does, take the opportunity to show off all of the hard work you have done throughout the year. Best of luck!