A five on the AP should merit an A in the class


Photo by Arjun Swaminathan

If students receive a 5 on an Advanced Placement exam, some AP teachers will bump their semester grade to reflect their content mastery.

By Arjun Swaminathan and Yash Nigam

Currently, a student at CHS can receive the highest possible AP exam score, a five, and not receive an A in said AP class. This is unacceptable. A student who shows mastery on the AP test should receive a “bump” in letter grade for his or her accomplishment.

Certain AP teachers in the school will bump students for receiving a five because the AP exam score reflects a student’s understanding and grasp of a class more than semester and quarter exams do. In addition, the exam tends to be more difficult, if not more, than many aspects of the curriculum, so it is quite an achievement to receive a five.

According to senior Chaitanya Singh, his AP Calculus BC teacher’s policy of bumping students for receiving a five helped him improve his work ethic because it forced him to approach his workload with more discipline.

However, not all teachers provide the same generosity, thus creating an inconsistency. The current grading policy favors students enrolled in AP classes with specific teachers because only these students have the extra opportunity to boost their semester grades by performing well on AP exams. Given that all AP exams are standardized, it does not make sense for teachers to subscribe to their own policy of determining semester grades independent of AP exam performance.

According to Principal Joan Benz, all of CHS’ academic departments should first agree on whether it is appropriate to use AP exam scores to determine semester grades and then should standardize their grading policies to allow students the same opportunities to earn higher grades regardless of teacher.
The present grading system has been plagued by departmental disunity.

According to math resource head and AP AB Calculus teacher Audrey Phillips, a uniform policy should be created across all departments in the spirit of fairness for students.

Phillips does not bump grades unlike some other teachers in her department because she feels that it is not fair to students who received A’s for both semesters that students with lower semester grades be bumped for receiving a five on an exam that has a significantly lower cutoff.

However, assigning grades independent of AP exam performance dampens academic motivation now more than ever. Fewer universities are using AP exam scores to award college credits, so there is no real benefit in mastering the material after grades have been decided.

Since AP exams are losing their official significance, certain teachers’ tendencies to boost semester grades for a five on the AP exam serve as an incentive for academic excellence and should be followed by any teacher that hasn’t caught on yet. For the many students aiming to go to colleges where AP credits are no longer accepted, the practice of boosting semester grades based on AP exam performance is the only tangible benefit of acing the tests.

One may argue that teachers should be allowed their own jurisdiction on this matter. However, the AP exam is the culmination of a student’s work in a class. If students perform well on the exam, their final grade should reflect their performance.

The solution to this issue is quite simple. CHS should institute a policy that rewards those who perform well on AP exams. There must be a uniform treatment of students taking advanced classes at CHS.