A little while ago, we posted a blog about a flaw of AP testing and our founder, Bev Taylor, followed that up with a separate piece in “The Huffington Post” calling out for change to an absurd AP policy. We’ve received a ton of emails and posts since — some of which were critical of our commentary and some of which were complementary — and so we wanted to chime in some more about this…and double down on what we said. We wholeheartedly stand by our request for a policy change by The College Board and we await a response from its leaders.
Do we advise our students to take lots of AP tests? Absolutely! In fact, we encourage our students to even take AP tests for courses that aren’t offered at their high schools. Yes, you can do that! You know why? It shows how naturally brilliant some students are — how they love to learn things on their own and pursue their interests in disciplines that aren’t even taught at their high schools. Many of our students at Ivy Coach listen to our advice and excel on AP exams for courses not offered at their schools. We are in the business of helping students gain an advantage in the highly selective college admissions process. Expressing a love for learning (and a natural ability to pick up disciplines not even taught at your school) is one such advantage we implore our students to capitalize on.
But that doesn’t mean we believe in unnecessary testing. Testing is always to an end (or at least it should be). When a students takes a midterm in AP US History, that midterm counts towards his grade. When he takes a final during his senior year (even after he’s admitted to college), that final exam grade matters because one’s admission can always be revoked. When one takes the SAT, that SAT score matters tremendously as a factor in admissions. But a senior who has no chance of getting a 5 — no matter how hard he studies — on the AP exam for Calculus and whose university that he will attend doesn’t even have a math requirement (and only accepts 5’s anyway) should not be required to sit for the AP test in this subject.
It’s just not right. That student shouldn’t have to pay to take an exam that is useless to his life. That student shouldn’t be required by his high school (as many high schools do require that students sit for the AP exam if they take that AP course — although some schools don’t) to do this. It’s selfish of the school. Will it help their ranking? Yes. The number of students who sit for an exam (yes, the important word here is “sit” rather than “ace”) matters for high school rankings. Despite some of the emails we received, we do not believe that it reflects poorly on a student’s character to doodle on this superfluous exam and write a letter to The College Board in the longer answer section requesting a refund. In fact, we applaud that student’s creativity. We applaud him for not being a sheep to the benefit of The College Board and his high school’s ranking. Good for him after all of the testing one endures throughout high school to say enough is enough.
And that’s exactly what we’re saying right now to The College Board. Enough is enough. High schools should not be able to require that students take AP exams and The College Board should be able to enforce this. Leaders of The College Board, we await your response in the comments section (we have a feeling one of your leaders already posted anonymously on our last post). We would like to see evidence of a change of policy to address our concern.