An Absurd Piece on AP Exams

There is an absurdly misleading piece up on Inside Higher Ed about the use of AP exam scores in elite college admissions.

A key objective of Ivy Coach’s college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process. You see, the admissions process to our nation’s elite universities is stressful enough. Parents and students don’t need admissions officers, school counselors, private college counselors, and the local handyman spreading misinformation about the process as, in our view, that only serves to amp up already high anxiety levels. Well, on this note, allow us to share with our readers an absolutely ridiculous article we came across recently up on the highly respected Inside Higher Ed. If it was published on April 1st rather than February 1st, we’d think the piece was an April Fools’ joke. But, alas, it is not.

Private College Counselor Argues AP Exam Scores Should Be Considered in Elite College Admissions

The piece by private college counselor David Benjamin Gruenbaum is entitled “Use AP Exams in Admissions” and indeed the title says everything you need to know. Use AP exams in admissions? That’s like entitling an article “Water is Wet.” Why yes it is! AP exams have been used in admissions for decades. Water, to our knowledge, has always been wet. But Mr. Gruenbaum doesn’t stop there. No, no he does not. As he writes, “When I inform my students that AP tests are not used for college admissions, they are shocked. And the reason they are surprised is completely valid: the AP tests are a terrific gauge of how well students know specific subject material in high school (math, chemistry, Spanish, English, etc.). Why are students doing all of this work if AP tests are not used for college admissions purposes?” Uhh, no Mr. Gruenbaum. Your students are likely “shocked” that you’re saying something that is utterly false. AP tests are absolutely used in college admissions and, in fact, they have long been a major factor in the highly selective college admissions process.

Private College Counselor Writes Proposal for Elite Colleges to Consider AP Exam Scores in Admissions

But Mr. Gruenbaum doesn’t stop there. He writes, “My proposal is quite simple: now that the subject tests are gone, the AP tests should be used, along with grade point averages, the SAT/ACT, etc. for admissions decisions at many of our country’s top universities.” Goodness gracious! This is like proposing that eating a balanced diet and exercising is good for one’s health! Mr. Gruenbaum, perhaps before you propose that “our country’s top universities” use AP tests as factors in the admissions process and before you write editorials for a reputable publication suggesting as much, you might educate yourself about the admissions process to our country’s top universities because it seems you’re truly without a clue.

AP Exam Scores Have Long Been a Factor in Elite College Admissions

Yet the clueless Mr. Gruenbaum keeps on going. He writes, “In fact, AP tests could be deemed optional by colleges, in the same way that SAT/ACT scores are now optional, for certain colleges.” Mr. Gruenbaum, AP tests already are optional in the admissions process to our country’s top universities. Students self-report the scores. They are not required to submit scores they don’t wish to report. Mr. Gruenbaum then ends his piece with an absolute flourish: “It’s truly a unique opportunity to improve the current college admissions and college academic scholarship process: use the results of a test that so many of the country’s best students are taking anyway.” Yes, Mr. Gruenbaum. It’s about as unique an opportunity as going to a fast-food burger joint and being served a burger.


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1 Comment

  • Enologisto says:

    If the admissions community and College Board are concerned about lowering barriers for low income students to selective admissions, how will expecting a dozen AP exams (at $95 a pop) help? The SAT subject tests were about $26 by comparison. Most colleges didn’t require them and those that did only asked for 2 or 3.

    I agree that the AP exams are much more meaningful than the subject tests. And I know these have been used for years in the admissions process, but they were never officially required. Are AP exams going to be required now? AP exams are very expensive. Each of my kids, for example, will have taken 12 or more by the time they graduate. I’m fortunate to able to pay for them. Not everyone is. And there are many families who don’t meet the threshold to qualify for the modest fee reduction (a $33 discount) that still would find it hard to come up with $1200 per child for testing.

    How do you think selective colleges will handle this? A mealy-mouthed policy of voluntarily reporting AP exam scores?

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