Why AP tests are a valid investment

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Why AP tests are a valid investment

Edward Wang

Advantages of AP tests far outweigh the costs

Over the past decade, more and more students have been enrolling in AP classes to take CollegeBoard’s AP exams. In 2001, only 432,343 graduating seniors had taken at least one AP test during their high school careers. But by 2010, 853,314 graduating seniors had taken an AP test at least once, doubling student participation in the program in just nine years.

However, this increase in AP test-taking has led some students to question the value of such relatively expensive tests compared to other high school tests. At $95, a single AP test costs $48 more than the SAT I test and $74 more than each SAT II subject test.

AP tests cost up to $74 more than some other common tests taken by high school students. But once people consider the quality and cost of AP education compared to that of college education, the costs are minimal for those who can afford it. Infographic by Edward Wang.Despite these daunting figures, people must still realize that the value of a challenging and rigorous education cannot be determined by its monetary value because AP education brings along benefits that will almost always exceed and outweigh any financial cost to students who can afford the AP tests.

Cost of AP tests vs. cost of college units

The concern over the cost of AP tests is mostly baseless once people consider what the $95 buy a student. The amount pays for a single examination that tests a student’s knowledge of a year of college-level material that is taught in a public school supported by tax dollars (in the case of MVHS). It also pays for a college professor or equivalent teacher to grade the free-response section and any other costs associated with the test administration

College tuition on the other hand varies very much from college to college but will almost always end up costing students thousands of dollars for an equal education, more or less.

Misguided concerns

Striving to take advantage of such high-quality education should be encouraged or even forced at schools, especially during a time when American education is falling behind that of other countries, such as China.

In the recent Program for International Student Assessment, America placed 23rd in the world for science, 31st in math, 17th in reading, and 17th overall.

China, on the other hand, placed first in science, math, and reading.

The results of the PISA remind us that there are even greater education problems than the cost of education facing America, especially in terms of quality. For the students who cannot afford the tests, there are still many financial aid options. Students who qualify for the Federal Free and/or Reduced Meal program can have test fees reduced by Collegeboard. In addition, the state of California will reduce the cost by another $52 depending on the availability of federal funds. In the end, eligible students will be required to pay only $5 per AP test.

At $5 per AP test, almost all students will have the opportunity to gain college credit during high school. So why are we worrying about the cost of our education when we should really be worrying about the quality of our education and the quality of our own intelligence?