Are AP exams worth it?


Photo by: Isaac Horn

Many students have been studying and preparing for their AP exams. Along the way, these students have gained valuable skills that will help them academically in the future.

By Isaac Horn, Staff Writer

With AP tests fast approaching, many students have been hit by a wave of stress that is overwhelming their already-hectic high school lives. This wave of stress has left these students with a collective thought: Are AP exams really worth the hassle? 

While this question might seem obvious at a quick glance, it opens up a complicated discussion. On one hand, taking AP tests gives students the opportunity to earn valuable college credit, stand out amongst others during the competitive college admissions process and become better prepared for challenging college work. On the other hand, the expensive cost of an AP exam, along with the time-consuming studying process and possibility of not receiving college credit, are seen as negatives. With this in mind, it is important to recognize that the benefits of taking AP exams go beyond college readiness. This solidifies why AP exams really are worth the hassle.

AP exams can certainly propel students towards collegiate success by opening up additional opportunities, providing early exposure to college-level academics and increasing flexibility with college courses. Along with this, students will develop valuable intellectual skills during the preparation process. The benefits of the AP test process outweigh the potential negatives and frustrations. 

The most glaring negative when it comes to AP tests is the costly price tag. At $96 for the 2021-2022 school year, AP exams are undoubtedly expensive and can be financially burdening for lower-income students. However, the cost can actually turn out to be a great long-term bargain because performing well on an AP exam will lead to vital tuition savings and an earlier college graduation. This can potentially save up to thousands of dollars during the college process.

According to PrepScholar, in addition to the challenging and rewarding experience that an AP test offers, students improve their studying and time-management skills during the preparation process. The exam provides an incentive for students to figure out how they can most successfully study, which will help them develop effective studying techniques that they will be able to use for the rest of their lives. 

Furthermore, while the AP exam process may seem extremely tedious, students improve academically. Students spend a lot of time practicing and mastering specific prompts. Although this process can become tiresome, it allows students to greatly improve their writing, critical-thinking and problem solving skills. These are key skills that will help students in many different areas.

The potential collegiate benefits that AP exams offer are too good to pass up. They can significantly shorten the time it takes to graduate from college and earn a desired degree. AP tests can also allow students to skip many unnecessary entry level courses, pushing them ahead towards better opportunities. During the admissions process, colleges definitely take into account the AP classes and exams someone completed during high school, as it proves that they are better prepared.  

While some might argue that the benefits of AP exams are only guaranteed if a student gets at least a 4 on an exam, all scores on AP exams have benefits. If a student scores a 1 or a 2, it sets them up for improvement because they will be able to learn from the challenge and improve in the future. Scoring a 3 can receive college credit at some colleges and proves that a student is ready for college-level courses. Scoring a 4 or 5 will obviously open up a world of amazing opportunities. 

Additionally, because most colleges are not requiring SAT or ACT submissions for the foreseeable future, AP tests have suddenly become more important and can be used to one’s advantage more than in the past.

Academically, high school is a time to experience a taste of what college is like. The AP exam process makes the transition from high school to college smoother and more comfortable. Ultimately, even if someone does not perform as well as they wanted, the preparation and experience will be worth it in the long run.