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Elise Gout

AP Tests: Why They’re Worth It


Now that winter has folded into spring, the AP season is slowly creeping closer, and students across the nation are signing up for the tests that they will be taking come May. While the process is undeniably intense, it offers far too many benefits to be bypassed. Listed below are some of the common reasons for opting out of AP tests – as well as the explanations arguing against them.

1. “I’m not interested in studying this subject in college.”

As little as you may like [insert any given subject here], the AP test is actually closer to your friend than your enemy. More often than not, the credits awarded by AP tests go towards college general education units, reducing the number of courses that you are required to enroll in. For example, by passing the AP Calculus test (be it AB or BC), you can lower the number of math classes that you’ll have to take down the road. Additionally, at some universities (like those in the UC system) a certain number of credits can establish you as a “starting sophomore,” allowing you to pick your classes earlier than the rest of the freshman. A lot of this is obviously contingent upon the college that you wind up committing to, but seeing as there is no way to currently know, all you can do is put yourself in the best position possible.

2. “They’re too expensive.”

Yes. Yes, they are. As of now, AP tests run at $89 each – multiply that number by say, five, and you’ve got yourself a substantial amount of dough. However, the key thing to remember is that, for every $89 you spend on an AP, you may be saving significantly more by testing out of that college class. These days, college textbooks alone can be upwards of $100.

If the AP test’s price is truly unfeasible given your financial situation, you may be able to have your fee waved or significantly reduced. At the beginning of this year, the College Board listed numerous different eligibility criteria for AP exam fee reductions. To see if you qualify, you can visit their website at www.collegeboard.org.

3. “I know that I won’t pass.”


*Sigh* …this is perhaps the most common reason as to why students avoid AP tests. Either they got a mediocre grade in the class. Or they didn’t have a teacher who prepared them well. Or they would never be able to memorize so much information at once (looking at you, history).

But if you start to doubt yourself, keep in mind that, for one, colleges really do look kindly to those who merely attempt the AP test. (Even if you don’t pass it – they’ll appreciate how you challenged yourself).

And, two, there is a near infinite number of AP resources available to ease the preparation process. Some of the best study tools can come from review books – whether they are published through Barron’s, the Princeton Review, etc. They are superb in helping you focus in on the most important information, and their sample essay prompts and questions can help familiarize you with the test’s wording. Barnes and Noble sells them by the boatload, but odds are that the older students at your high school have some left over from last year (which they should be more than happy to get rid of).

This is not to forget that we also have access to a beautiful thing known as the Internet; don’t be afraid to Google search to your heart’s content. There is so much information out there, and if you set aside enough time, you can find just about all the assistance you need.

At the end of the day, AP testing can be hyped up as the stressful, break-down-inducing two weeks from hell, but it really doesn’t have to be. Think of it as an opportunity to further your future. One that, chances are, you’ll thank yourself for later.


Pro Tip: How to Study for the SAT and AP tests at the same time.


About Elise Gout

Elise writes articles for the Magoosh SAT blog to help teenagers during an exciting time in their lives. Despite residing in Southern California, where she attends San Dieguito Academy high school, she has no surfing abilities whatsoever; it’s actually rather sad. She is your typical senior high school girl who sword fights daily, and is pretty much convinced that bananas are a food sent from heaven. Elise will attend Columbia University next fall to study environmental science.

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