As spring semester gets underway, students (in conjunction with their teachers and IOAPA mentors) must decide whether or not to take AP exams for their courses. As we’ve discussed in past posts, we encourage mentors and site coordinators to discuss taking the AP exam with students. March 25 is the priority deadline, and April 15 is the final deadline. For details, visit https://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ap/coordinate/order/deadlines. Each school, including IOAPA partners, must order their own exams directly through the College Board.
Why encourage students to take the AP exam? We often hear concerns that the exam is too stressful, or that students are worried about not passing. These are students who identify with being very smart. Sometimes less-than-perfect grades can feel threatening to that identity. It’s important to emphasize there are benefits to taking an AP exam, even if a student does not earn a score that qualifies for college credit. In addition, IOAPA provides free AP Exam Reviews to IOAPA students at no cost (be on the lookout for more information later in the spring).
Students who take the AP exam and receive at least a score of 2 have higher college GPAs and are more likely to graduate from college within 4 years than students who take concurrent enrollment courses. (See here and here.) Even if students do not “pass” the exam, it is still a valuable learning experience. If nothing else, they will gain practice studying for and taking a comprehensive college-level exam, and learn the course material more fully along the way – all in a supported, low-risk environment. Their exam score has no effect on their course grades, so their GPAs will remain intact, regardless of their exam performance. And, of course, they definitely won’t earn college credit if they don’t even take the exam!