AP Exam Policy

Should students be required to take AP Exams

Dani Foust, Copy Editor

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For many, the last few weeks have been full of stress, tears and lots of caffeine.  As AP exams come to an end, students finally find themselves able to relax and breathe after not only the last two weeks, but a stress filled year.  When students in Forsyth County register to take an AP course, they automatically agree to take the AP exam given in early May. If a student fails to take the exam or opts out of taking the exam, their grade will be dropped by one letter based on school board policy.  While Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools enforce this policy mandating that students take the AP exam, many counties and states across the country do not have similar policies. Why should, for example, an AP biology student in Forsyth county be punished for choosing not to take the exam exam, while a student, in Virginia does not face repercussions for opting out of the exam?

For the past couple of years, WSFCS have payed for all students enrolled in AP courses in the county to take the exam.  This provides all students with an equal opportunity to receive credit without having to worry about the $94 fee.

“I think that having the fee waived for all students is a real positive,” sophomore Giselle Milian-Magallón said.  “By paying for every student taking an AP in the county, every student is ensured an equal opportunity to receive college credit.  If the school system had not done this, some students may have had to opt out of the exam due to the expense.”

Throughout the entirety of the school year, students are pushed and challenged by the course work and material in order to be prepared for the exam.  Due to this, many students feel as though the requirement is not a significant issue because of two factors. One, they are ready and fully prepared for the exam.  Two, the AP exam does not count toward your final grade in a class.

“As AP students we are constantly challenged by our teachers, as well as the course material throughout the year.  Therefore, I don’t think there is anything hurt by making students take the exam because they should be prepared for it, and it won’t hurt them in the long run if they don’t pass it ,” junior Lainey Williamson said. “Though, I can see where people are coming from when they believe that students should have the right to choose whether or not to take part in thee AP testing experience in May.  If kids in other states aren’t required to take the exam, why should we?”

While some students hold a more strong opinion towards the matter, others somewhat understand where the school system is coming from when they offer the ultimatum: take the exam, or end up with a lower grade in the class.

“I think students should have to take the AP exam if they are taking an AP class, but should be able to have the option to not take the exam base on grades and absences.  Personally, I don’t like the whole letter grade down if you don’t take the exam, but the punishment does get students to take the exam,” junior Jeffery Harm said. “So, the punishment is understandable and is acceptable for the requirements of an AP course.”

Requiring students to take the exam does offer positive opportunities such as receiving college credit without having to pay a dime, AP testing does have it drawbacks.  These negative factors include large amounts of stress, lack of sleep, and most importantly, students missing regular classes during the day in order to take exams.

“The biggest problems are when kids are taking five to six APs and are missing a lot of class, it also takes a toll on those who are not taking AP classes,” said ASL teacher Lauren Bailey.  “Last week, I had students who had exams both on Wednesday and Friday, so I would see them on Monday and that is it. If we tested at the end of the week, I had to give make-up work. Sometimes I had to take time out of a regular class day to do review in order to prepare for a test.”

Though the overall objective behind this policy is to allow for students to obtain college credit early without the hefty price, many students are frustrated by this policy.

“While I think that this policy is positive, many of my fellow peers feel differently,” Williamson said.  “Requiring students to take the exam causes unneeded stress and overall isn’t necessary.”