Time and money put into AP testing hurts students

Aanya Agarwal, Staff Writer

What can you buy with $376 dollars?

Five brand new pairs of Adidas Superstars, 315 soft tacos at taco bell, and two pairs of airpods, if we’re rounding down. I, on the other hand, spent the $376 on AP testing.

Many students at MN take AP tests without taking the actual class, and the concept is especially popular amongst IB kids. The tests are free for kids enrolled in the coordinating courses, but cost $94 dollars a piece for students who decide to self-study. Obviously $94 is not a small amount of money, so students naturally have to ask if all that money is worth it.

The answer is more complicated than it seems. Some students want to try for AP honors for the sake of a college application boost. Others might be taking classes with similar content and figure that taking a corresponding AP is not too much extra work. AP tests also allow students to forego introductory classes at many colleges, and everyone knows that a semester class in college costs an awful more than $94. Most students therefore see self-studying for exams as a forward investment. The $94 dollars they have to pay now means hundreds of dollars saved in terms of college tuition in the near future.

However, the downsides to self-studying are numerous and cannot be overlooked. The material is often difficult to learn alone and prep books rarely cover all course material. Another important factor to consider is the fact that AP exams lie in the same timeframe as IB exams and finals for many students, which leads to massive amounts of added stress. I, personally, have a week in which I take three AP exams, three finals, and two IB exams. Unfortunately, I am not an isolated case. Many of my classmates have began referring to the next two weeks as “death weeks” because of the amounts of stress they will be under due to testing.

Arguably the largest downside, however, is the fee. It remains an invisible barrier for many students when it comes to considering self-studying for an exam. This invisible barrier is another iteration of the American education system’s use of monetary barriers to systematically discourage low-income students from pursuing all available opportunities. The fees are, thus, just another reason why the practice of self-studying for AP exams is generally a toxic practice.

So what’s the verdict on self-studying for AP exams? They’re simply not worth it. They do not guarantee college credit, there are better ways to boost your application, and students generally have too much going on in early May to worry about cramming new courses anyway. Not to mention, you’d be out of luck if you want airpods and it suddenly turns out that you’re $376 too short.