Face-to-Face: Should AP students be required to take the AP test?

Isabella Alioto

Should AP tests be required?

Face-to-Face is a feature that allows two members of the Redwood community to grill each other, argue, or simply converse about a relevant issue or event. We provide the topic, and they do the rest. This month’s participants are juniors Jason Seavey and Maggy Kepler. The two debate whether students should be required to take AP exams.

Do you believe that students should be required to take the AP test for the AP classes they are enrolled in?

Jason Seavey: Yes, I believe students should be forced to take the AP test if they take the AP class, the reason being that if you are to take the AP class, wouldn’t it only be logical to take the AP

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test that then rewards you for taking that class? For instance, let’s say I took AP U.S. History and I want to get U.S. History credit for college so I don’t have to spend as much money in college taking classes and getting credits, I would take the AP test. But if I weren’t forced to do so, I could just be a lazy high school student and not take the test and ultimately cheat myself out of college. By forcing students to take the AP test, you are doing them a favor by not letting them sabotage themselves.

Maggy Kepler: It’s a student’s personal choice whether they want to take this test because some people might not feel confident on an AP test in a subject that they have been struggling with. Even though it might be nice for some students to get that AP credit and have that on their transcript, we shouldn’t be forcing people to do it if they don’t feel confident or if they don’t want to. It’s also extremely expensive. If we were to be forcing people to do this, that is forcing people to pay money to take a test that they really might not want to take.

JS: I think things like the AP tests are prevalent throughout other subjects. In every other subject, we have to take a final. I wish that I wouldn’t have to take a final, but I have to because it’s displaying the knowledge.

MK: The AP test is something that is extra. You can always opt out of that because it should be the student’s choice whether they want to do that. If people are choosing not to take an AP test, it’s because they have a viable reason.

Do you think there should be a maximum number of AP classes in which a student can enroll, given that it is often expected that they take the AP test for all of them?

JS: No, I don’t think so. I have faith in people by the time they’re this old to decide what they want to do.

MK: If someone decides to take five AP classes because that’s what they are really interested in, then get to the test and say they can not handle this workload, shouldn’t they be able to opt out of one or two and say, ‘These are the three I feel most confident in and these are the only tests I want to take?’ I think that is a big argument for why people should be able to choose whether or not they take the test.
Would it be better or worse if the AP tests were offered closer to the end of the school year?

JS: Worse. Personally, I really enjoy the research projects that I’ve had after AP testing, which are a really nice contrast to the rush before the AP test.

MK: I completely disagree. That gives us almost a full month more of learning. In a lot of my classes, it is so rushed at the end of the year because there is so much information to cover and so much review because you are going back to the very first weeks of school. If [AP tests] were in finals week, you’re studying for your test at the same time. A lot of AP classes have finals at the end of the year anyways, so why not study for two at once?

Do you think that AP classes should still be taught according to what will be on the test? Why?

JS: Yes, teachers should subscribe to the AP curriculum because most of the students in there are taking the class in order to eventually succeed on the AP test. By not providing the structured curriculum that is in accordance with the AP test, you are then inhibiting the students’ eventual score on the AP test.

MK: Teachers should center their lessons around what’s going to be on the AP test, not just  because every student should have to take the AP test but also because the AP test is a very rounded amount of information. In learning what you need to know to do well on the AP test you are learning everything you need to know to be successful in the subject generally.