Are AP Tests Worth It? If So, How Can I Study?
As February approaches, the deadline to register for AP Tests draws near, leaving many struggling with the decision of whether to sign up or not. For some, the daunting workload and challenging nature of AP courses becomes a deterrent for completing the test in the spring, yet many fail to realize that AP Tests aren’t as bad as they seem.
In fact, if the expense of taking the test becomes a concern, it is important to remember that passing with a 3 or higher guarantees a refund for the cost of the test. With the exaggerated curves granted by the College Board, it seems almost impossible not to pass; some online test calculators suggest that merely a 40% on the multiple choice section of the Calculus AB Test and 30% on the free response, for a total composite score of 38/108, earns a 3. Many universities offer credits for passing grades on AP exams, though often a 4 becomes the minimum score necessary to redeem these credits. Necessary scores and corresponding credits for any university can be found by Googling “AP Exam Credits” followed by the name of the school. Not only are AP Tests free if you pass, but the ability to earn credits in college for these tests allows one to save both time and money on expensive tuition. Taking around 7 AP Tests can earn up to 24 credits for college, an entire year’s worth, meaning that in some cases you may be able to finish school in three years rather than four and save a year’s worth of tuition. Again, this is dependent on your university and major as well as the tests you take, so make sure to check out your school’s website and AP Test credentials online before making a decision.
Once the beneficial aspects of AP Tests are considered and should you decide to take the tests, it becomes important to consider studying habits for approaching the test. Remember, studying for an AP Test doesn’t have to be daunting- it’s just like studying for a final at school. Regardless, studying will be much easier if it is begun in advance, preferably around the time of midterms when you will be reviewing regardless. Review books are a great investment, as they condense the information you need to know in a more understandable manner and often contain practice questions, tips for answering problems, and score convertors. If you aren’t willing to spend the money on a review book, see if you know someone who already took the exam you will be taking, and ask them if you can buy their review books for a discounted price or perhaps if they are willing to donate it to you for free. Additionally, many teachers have practice booklets that you can use, but not keep, making it easy to receive free preparation for your test. If studying is begun early, it can be broken apart into a few paragraphs of reading a night, and it gives you time to realize your weaknesses in the material. This extra time allows you to ask for clarification from teachers and gives you time to master tricky information, instead of forcing you to try to cram the night before. Make sure to check the College Board 2016 AP Test Calendar to see what tests will be held on which days in the first two weeks of May, and whether the tests you will be taking will be held in the morning or afternoon. Taking two tests in one day would be a less than ideal situation, and the ability to space out the exams you are considering taking could be a potential enticement for your decision.