Colleges less likely to give credit for APs

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Emilie Plesset

Students labor over APs that may not count in the future.

By Emilie Plesset, Senior Writers

Colleges have become increasingly stringent in their acceptance of AP exam scores for college credit. Many top-ranked universities are now only accepting a score of either a four or five on an AP exam, if at all.

Dartmouth College recently announced that beginning in Fall 2014 it will not accept any AP or IB exam scores for college credit.

According to a January New York Times article, Dartmouth gave a Psych One final exam to incoming students who earned a five on the AP Psychology exam. However, despite doing well on the AP exam, only 10 percent of the students passed the test.

Some colleges may not accept AP credit for certain AP courses because they may find that these classes are not fully comparable to their entry level courses in a particular subject.

“AP Chemistry covers all the basics of General Chemistry and that to me is a foundation to take higher level chemistry classes in college,” AP Chemistry teacher Jodi Boppana said. “Depending on the college, that level is different. At Dartmouth they must have wanted the kids to go through the basics again before they jump into more difficult chemistry classes.”

According to Donna Hamilton, the Associate Provost and Dean for under-graduate Studies at the University of Maryland (UMD), each academic department at the university reviews the AP exams and determines whether the test is equivalent to their UMD course, which scores will be accepted, and how the credit will be used.

“I have no doubt that AP classes at CHS are rigorous,” AP Literature and Composition teacher Haroot Hakopian said. “But MCPS has an initiative where they want as many people as possible to take at least one AP class and pass the test with a three or above. That is pressuring a lot of students that wouldn’t normally take AP classes to enroll in AP classes which eventually results in the class not being as rigorous or lots of students getting Cs or below.”

While students may find it more difficult to earn college credit through the AP, many colleges still want to see students challenging themselves by taking AP courses in high school. Additionally, many schools still use AP exam scores to allow students to be placed in higher-level classes.

“The AP exams challenge students to see how they perform based on what they absorbed all throughout the year,” Boppana said. “Taking those risks and challenging themselves to that extent is a good thing.”

Students who score well on AP exams are able to gain college credit and save money on college tuition by securing enough credit to graduate early.

“The exam itself has always been pitched as a way to save money on college credits,”Hakopian said. “You pay $89 and you can use that if you score high enough to take the place of a college credit class which could cost about $1,000 to $11,000.”

According to CHS College Information Coordinator Luana Zimmerman, all students enrolled in an AP class are expected to take the exam. Students who decline to take the AP exam must sign a contract stating that they will instead take a final exam, which is usually an AP exam from a previous year.