kitchen table math, the sequel: AP Test $$$

Friday, December 6, 2013

AP Test $$$

Having written a check for $445 this morning to cover the cost of the 5 AP tests my son will take in May, I figure I'm allowed to gripe a little bit. I came close to telling him not to bother taking the tests. They will have NO influence on whether he gets into one college or another. However, his school won't give him the weighted value for the course unless he can get at least a '3' on each test. Never mind that all of his grades are A's. Does anyone know of students who do not bother to take the tests? I think the cost is too high and parents should not have to pay for them 6 months ahead of time. I feel like I'm at the car dealership for service. I just write the check.


Dylan Kane said...

My (public) high school was very AP focused, and pushed everyone to take as many as possible (we were nationally ranked for our AP scores). I took 15 throughout high school -- 8 before senior year, and took all the tests to help my college apps. Took 7 senior year and only took two tests (for teachers I cared about) and couldn't have been happier. And my school still weighted my GPA for the AP classes

Anonymous said...


At the school where I teach, students can change their mind even up to the last minute and get most of that payment back. So you can wait until you know where your son will be attending and whether the AP credit in a particular subject will actually be of any use.

Linking the weighted grade to the test is a clever bit of inducement. The rate of tests taken and the success rate are used by some of the organizations ranking high schools (Newsweek comes to mind) so now the high schools feel the need to game the system just like the colleges do.

But since it won't affect college admissions, what's the harm in throwing away the weighted grade?


gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Around here, you sign up for the May tests in March (I think the deadline is mid April).

AP exams can be valuable at colleges that award credit for AP exams, but only mildly useful for getting out of b.s. prerequisites elsewhere.

As a home-school parent, the AP exams have been valuable for us to show colleges that the studies my son have done are not just fluff. My son will probably take one AP this Spring to show that he really has already had chemistry (a requirement for admission at his top-ranked school). If he ends up going to a state school instead, he might take more AP exams, in order to remove some general ed requirements (about 1/4 of the education at many universities is really just high-school level general ed).

SteveH said...

"Around here, you sign up for the May tests in March (I think the deadline is mid April)."

I was under the impression that it was the College Board that sets the deadline for registration and payment. I think it will be best for him to take the exams. I'm just griping about the cost and the early payment.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain, Steve. We felt we needed the tests since my son's grades were so lackluster. Because his attitude isn't so great at times, I told him that I would only pay for a 4 or a 5. He would pay for everything else. That was all it took.


SteveH said...

He also just submitted his Common App and basic question parts to 6 more colleges this afternoon ... at $60 - $75 each. He is applying to a total of 10 colleges.

VickyS said...

In Minnesota, the Department of Education reimburses $50 for each $89 test, in order to encourage AP test taking. Makes no difference what your income is. However, you have to be savvy about this and ask the school for the reimbursement money if they charge you the $89 initially instead of $39!

High schools need to purchase AP tests by the end of March, so they need the money from the students before then. It doesn't surprise me that they would begin to try to collect in December.

At our school we've found it essential to require the AP test. This is because students will drop the AP classes (if they don't need the credits) after the college admission season is over, or simply slack off. Requiring the test makes sure they stick it out.

Also, depending on the college or university you attend, you can get a lot of credit for taking the AP tests (but not the classes). The $89 per test is a small price to pay when you get 8 credits worth of math or chemistry out of it, like my son did! He's got sophomore standing (as a nominal freshman) for spring term now, which not only is going to save us money but allows him to register earlier than his peers.

I know that academic credit for AP scores isn't offered at some prestigious private colleges, but in state schools, getting a 3 or higher on a few tests can be a real boon.

SteveH said...

Thanks VickyS. However, I looked and saw that our state offers no AP payment support.

For my son, this is not an issue of bailing out after college acceptances come in, but I can see how others might do so. I also see that good AP scores won't lower the college cost for any of the schools my son is applying to. It would just allow him to move ahead or have more control over distribution or GenEd classes.

Also, we are going online today to pay to have the CollegeBoard send his scores out to all colleges. I'm surprised that colleges don't need to have AP scores validated. I think it would be an easy thing to add to the CollegeBoard reports.

Crimson Wife said...

Depending on what your son wants to do, being able to AP out of lower-level courses can mean the difference between graduating in 4 years vs. 4 1/2 to 5. My husband would not have been able to double-major in engineering and history and finish in 4 years without his AP credits.

momof5 said...

CW is right about options. All of my kids had enough APs to give them sophomore status (although one went to an engineering-specialty school so small they didn't accept APs). One did a 5-year BA-MA program in four, one triple majored (and used his 5s in AP econ to jump to the next-level honors econ course) and one did three semesters as a TA in finance and three semesters of a marketing internship (same company) - both of which were invaluable, both for getting her summer internships and for her post-graduation jobs.

momod4 said...

Sorry - I'm momof4

Anonymous said...

Same with my son. He's a direct admit to the business school as a freshman so he takes sophomore business classes, but his 35 AP credits knocked him into sophomore status in general. He's able to double major (econ/finance)) more easily.


momod4 said...

Susan: If he's interested in going into finance, lots of places (on Wall Street and off) put a lot of stress on their people getting their CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Part I can be taken at the end of the senior year, I think, but I"m not sure if kids still in school can take in December. Parts II and III follow. There are specific study packets and the failure rate is HIGH - which is why certification (not final until at least 3 years working in finance - and it may be 5 now) - is valuable. A lot of firms/positions require it Two of my kids (I with accounting undergrad the other doubled in econ/finance) got their master's in accounting and went the CFA route after their CPA - it's pretty common, I think.
There's also a CFP (Planner) - for those advising clients on their personal portfolios. FWIW

Anonymous said...

Thanks Momof4,

I know nothing about this area, so any suggestions or tips are extremely helpful. I will pass this on to him and see what he knows.


momof4 said...

If you google Chartered Financial Analyst, you will get the official website, Wiki info and other links. Your son's business school should have someone familiar with the program - likely to be in the graduate school, because of the financial-experience requirement - and the grad school may have CFAs on the faculty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I will!


VickyS said...

If you have good AP scores as a junior, I think it makes sense to pay to have them sent directly to schools where admission isn't a shoe in (rather than simply self-reporting). My younger son had unremarkable SAT scores but did well on the AP Calc exam as a junior. He got admitted to a couple of science/engineering schools (he's a physics major) that I thought would reject him. I think the AP Calc score might have made a difference, even though the schools didn't request them.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

College Board says

"If your school offers AP courses, contact your AP Coordinator to register. They will order the exams, collect fees, and let you know when and where to show up."

The also say

"What if I’m Homeschooled or at a School That Doesn’t Offer AP?

You may be able to take the AP Exam you want by arranging to test at a participating school. Here’s how:

Contact AP Services no later than March 3 to get the names and telephone numbers of local, participating AP Coordinators willing to test outside students. Prepare a list of the AP Exams you are interested in taking before you call.
Call the AP Coordinators identified by AP Services no later than March 17."

On they say
"March 28: Priority deadline

Submit orders by this date to ensure timely processing and delivery."

momod4 said...

It's not usually advertized, but you don't need to take the AP class in order to take the test (unless things have changed). As a sophomore, my DD decided, at the last minute, to take the AP English Language test - cold, no practice - and passed!. Because of a schedule conflict, she later prepped for the AP geography on her own

Catherine Johnson said...

Haven't read the comments, but the tests are WAY worth it.

Chris placed out of all kinds of courses with his AP credits.

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

Catherine wrote, "Haven't read the comments, but the tests are WAY worth it. Chris placed out of all kinds of courses with his AP credits."

As always, that depends. In this case, it depends mainly on what college the kid goes to. Some give lots of AP credit, some give none. Some give credit even for the lower-level CLEP tests, which are cheaper. As a rough rule of thumb, the higher the tuition, the less likely the school is to give credit for AP tests.

AP tests have some value even if no credit is given—they sometimes allow placement into higher-level courses at the college, and they can validate coursework taken as a home schooler.

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