Advanced Placement or Added Pressure?

Sarah Vincent, Reporter

Second semester seniors here at Pres revel in the possibility of getting out of all of their finals. This hope keeps seniors going during second semester, when they otherwise may not want to work as hard to keep their A averages.

However, students who are hoping not to show up on the days of their finals must consider if the class they are taking is an AP class. If they are taking an AP class, students must take the $93 AP exam in order to escape their final, regardless of whether or not they have an A in the class.

In non-advanced classes, the only requirement for getting out of finals is having a 92.5 or higher grade in the class, meaning that final exemption is a more time consuming and complicated process for the students in AP classes. This policy is not fair to the students in AP classes because it requires them to spend money in order to get out of their finals and adds an extra burden to seniors who are already tired, busy, and pressured.  

I plan to take four AP exams next spring when I am a senior. Multiply $93 by 4 and that becomes, well, just about $400. Although discrimination is not the intention of this policy, that is exactly what it is. This policy discriminates against the students who may not be able to afford taking several AP exams because their families cannot afford the financial burden.

For the students who are assisted with financial aid, they may ask to have their AP exam expenses covered. But if these students’ requests can not be met for some reason, or for students who are not on financial aid yet still face financial difficulties, the policy means that they will be unable to get out of their finals. Students are discriminated from participating in a tradition that is a senior right-of-passage: getting out of finals.
Students take AP classes  to personally challenge themselves, boost their application resume, or simply because they are very interested in the class, but this does not necessarily mean that they want to take the AP exam, nor will they succeed.

Certainly, an AP class is designed to prepare students to do well on the AP exam. That being said, in certain classes it is possible to do well in the actual class, but when attempting outside prep for the test, to still feel unprepared. These students should have the choice to opt out of the AP exam and still not have to take the final if they have an A.

The time commitment of AP exams is another factor to consider. Even if a student only has one AP exam, teacher guidelines recommend at least 15-20 hours in studying for AP exams, alongside usually two or three review sessions. Depending on the teacher, these review sessions may be mandatory, meaning that if the student has another activity, like track practice or a speech-and-debate practice, they are unable to attend. Even if the review sessions are not mandatory, they still may not fit with the schedules of busy second semester seniors

Moreover, second semester seniors, due to the unfortunate infection of senioritis–or the endless events that occur in May, like prom, May Day, senior lunch and dinner, just to name a few–may not have time or energy to study for all of the exams. Given that the intention of allowing seniors to get out of finals second semester is to reward them for their hard work and try to remove stress, it does not make sense to force them to take an AP exam that will undoubtedly stress them out. For many students, taking a three-hour AP exam is a worse prospect than an hour-and-a-half  final, so forcing students to take the AP exam to get out of their final removes the motivation for them to succeed in the class anyway.

The policy that forces seniors in AP classes to take the AP exams in order to get out of taking finals is not fair as it discriminates against students who can not afford the high expenses, heightens stress among already busy and pressured second semester students, and removes a motivating factor for students to do well in their classes. Pres should reconsider this policy before May, when seniors will be subject to its unfair consequences.