An elite AP score doesn’t mean credit at all colleges


Morgan Hykin

Even with a 5 on an AP exam, students may still not receive college credit with new policies in place by schools such as Dartmouth and Columbia.

Dom Mazero, Contributing Writer

In 2014, more than 30 million students took more than 50 million AP exams in the hopes of receiving college credit. However, those numbers could be set to decrease as prominent institutions like Dartmouth and Columbia start to question their merit.

“Ultimately the decision to modify the policy was made to require our students to take full advantage of the faculty expertise and unique academic resources that characterize a Dartmouth educational experience,” Dartmouth said in a public statement on their website.

While disappointing for students, many understand that the decision these schools made was for the best.

“Given the nature of the rigor of these type of schools, I’m not surprised,” College Counselor Randy Trevino said. “Schools like Dartmouth have an expectation that you will take or a student will take an AP rigorous course load, but often times they have their own internal way of teaching a certain subject. So they may have the national curriculum offered through College Board for AP, but they have their own professors maybe in a seminar format or some other way to really get in depth in a certain class that they might add their own twist to. So the expectation for the students that get into these schools will have AP courses, but they’re going to teach them again their own way. Because they can.”

According to a study conducted by Dartmouth, 90 percent of students who received a 5 on the AP Psychology exam failed the condensed version of the first semester final at the university.

“That is certainly possible because college board is a national built in rigor,” Trevino said. “It’s across the board. Colleges know what to expect from it, but schools like Dartmouth, they ratchet things up a notch or two. And so that is kind of a baseline expectation.”

People like class of 2015 graduate Angela Tang who have taken 17 AP exams throughout her high school year understand why some institutions are hesitant about granting college credit for AP scores.

“I think it’s reasonable because it’s only rated on a 1 to 5 scale, so it’s not by luck, but if you study just a ‘5 Steps to a 5’ book, you could easily manage to pass the exam at least,” Tang said. “So it is reasonable for colleges to not count it as a credit for college.”

Tang will be attending Williams College next fall, a school dubbed as the best college in the United States by Forbes Magazine.

“I don’t regret taking that many exams because I think taking that many actually helped me get accepted into the college,” Tang said. “It is just more about whether or not I wanted to graduate early, and I am not interested in graduating early because I’m not on a medical track or anything, so I’m not in a rush.”

2013 graduate Ginger Hervey who went into the University of Missouri with 39 general education credits, would not change the amount of AP classes she took in high school even if Missouri didn’t accept her scores.

“I didn’t know where I was going to college when I signed up for the classes, and I didn’t take them so that I would have college credit,” Hervey said. “I took them because I was interested in the subjects and because I wanted to learn and challenge myself in the classroom.”

Hervey believes that AP classes prepare students for freshman classes, but only to a certain degree.

“AP classes have similar workloads to freshman college classes, but they are not the same at all,” Hervey said. “In high school, I felt like we really had all the tools we need to succeed handed to us. Teachers were there every morning and after school for tutoring, the classes had 20 people in them, and there was accountability for your attendance and performance. In college freshman classes, it’s generally a 300 person lecture hall. There are no study guides, or homework grades. You don’t generally know your professor unless you go to office hours, and nobody cares or even really knows if you skip class.”

At the end of it all, Hervey still believes that AP classes are a great way to prepare for the future, regardless of whether or not colleges will award the credit.

“If you are planning to go to a good enough university that you’re worried it won’t take AP credits, you need to be challenging yourself in the classroom in high school for your own sake,” Hervey said. “If you skate by and take easy classes, you might not be ready for the challenges of some college courses.”