Opinion: Wasted money + unnecessary stress = AP exams

WSPNs Jonathan Zhang discusses why AP exams are an unnecessary stress to students who choose to take them, as well as a hit to their bank accounts.

Credit: Katya Luzarraga

WSPN’s Jonathan Zhang discusses why AP exams are an unnecessary stress to students who choose to take them, as well as a hit to their bank accounts.

Jonathan Zhang

Once again, us high school students living in the United States have just finished the rigorous batch of standardized tests known as the Advanced Placement exams. These tests are supposed to test the knowledge we have accumulated over the past year. During this period of AP exams, many students chose to study a lot while some did not. Why? Well, let me quiz you. What does wasted money plus unnecessary stress equal?

That’s right. For many high school seniors who already know their plans for the next year, AP exams can be a waste of time, effort and money, and the reason is simple — many schools don’t accept AP scores for credit in college.

Additionally, as a senior myself, I know that motivation levels are at an all-time low as a result of the phenomenon known as “senior slump.” Put frankly, the majority of students simply want to live out and enjoy the rest of their high school career.

Now, let me ask you a question. If our future college or employer won’t accept our AP scores in exchange for college credit, why should we have to pay a whopping $110 per exam and spend hours studying to do well on something that will not be counted towards our future? Seniors would without a doubt rather enjoy senior spring and the limited time they have left with their friends before they go off to college.

Moreover, although wishful thinking, I feel that we should be paid for having to study for and sit through a three to four hour test that doesn’t give any real benefit to ourselves. While students spend their days slaving over exam texts, others are working or enjoying the nice weather. Being paid for taking AP tests would be a small consolation prize to AP students.

The only reason that I can see a senior taking the exam when their college doesn’t accept AP credit is if they’re taking the exam to see how they stand on a national level. However, I believe that simply taking the course and getting a good grade is a sufficient enough measure in tracking how well you learned the material, especially since many Wayland High School AP courses are much more rigorous than that of other high schools nationwide.

So I guess the real question is, why do so many high school seniors still decide to take the exam? Well, the reason is simple: WHS policy and costs.

Let’s talk about school policy first. The moment a WHS student signs up for an AP course, they are agreeing that they will take the AP exam or forfeit the course from their transcript. What I mean by this is that if I’m taking AP Physics and wish to opt out of the exam, the course will be removed from my high school transcript.

The funny thing about this is that WHS doesn’t necessarily care if we fail the exam, only that we take it. This results in many students approaching the exam as… well… a waste of time and money. All of this extra studying and stress for the sake of keeping a course on their transcript, so they don’t get rescinded from the college they applied to.

The other issue is costs. Now, disregarding the fact that the AP exam itself is grossly and completely overpriced coming from a “non-profit organization,” even if a student decides not to take the AP exam, they will still have to pay a cancellation fee of $40 per exam, which is… simply brilliant.

Added to the costs of applying to college, prom, graduation fee and the looming doom of tuition, it’s pretty easy to see why many of us seniors simply suck it up and sit through the bundle of stress known as AP exams.