Seniors should be refunded for AP tests their colleges do not accept

Gabriella Monico

[dropcap1]F[/dropcap1]or two weeks every May, MVHS students are herded into the gym, Quinlan Center, Cupertino Library or St. Jude’s Church for three hours at a time. The only sounds are those of shallow breaths and pencil across paper as students methodically fill in bubbles and frantically write essays, all the while trying to keep track of how many questions they can miss while still passing the exam. And all of this for the bargain price of $95.

However, some students who signed up for AP courses will not be participating in this annual ritual. Many seniors choose to attend colleges that do not acknowledge certain AP courses as a valid form of general education credit for college classes. Certain prestigious colleges, such as Brown, Dartmouth and Columbia, deny the AP system all together, refusing to give their admitted students credit for AP exams.

While the seniors admitted to these colleges paid for their tests in February, they have no reason to take the test since it can not be redeemed for college credit, nor will the test results boost their college application.

According to College Board, students who sign up to take the AP tests in February are not required to take tests in May. The refund policy, however, is left to the discretion of the school and the only requirement from the College Board is that for each untaken test, the school owes the College Board $15. At MVHS, the tests are considered non refundable.

The major problem with our school’s policy is that there is a two month gap between when students sign up for AP tests and when they actually take them.For the majority of seniors, it is during these crucial months, March and April, that they discover which colleges have accepted them and decide which they want to go to.

[quote_center]The major problem with our school’s policy is that there is a two month gap between when students sign up for AP tests and when they actually take them.[/quote_center]

As each college has its own policy on accepting AP credits, it could very well turn out that a certain AP course is invalid at a certain school. For example, John Hopkins University accepts most AP courses from French Language to Calculus, but does not accept any type of literature or history related AP courses for credit. The AP tests that matter to the seniors — the ones they get credit for — can only be found out after they know which college they are going to. And while most prestigious private schools have very conservative credit policies for AP courses, students that are applying to these schools still choose to take a plethora of AP courses as they need to demonstrate continued course rigor into their senior year. Furthermore, because of the astoundingly low acceptance rate of these colleges, it is very unlikely for a student to plan their AP coursework based on one of those school’s AP credit policies, all of which vary vastly from college to college.

For non-senior students, taking the test is important despite the fact that they too could end up going to a college that doesn’t accept that particular AP course for credit. The reason for this is that AP scores are another measure by which colleges judge their applicants, thus high AP scores can help boost a student’s application. As the seniors have already applied and by May 5 already know where they are going, there is not a single advantage to them taking an AP test for a course their college does not acknowledge as valid for credit. Thus they have paid a substantial amount of money for no return on investment.

[quote_center]Seniors whose colleges of choice do not accept certain AP courses or do not accept AP courses all together should be refunded for the tests they cannot take.[/quote_center]

Instead of making the tests nonrefundable, MVHS’s policy should reflect a more understanding approach towards the seniors’ dilemma. Seniors whose colleges of choice do not accept certain AP courses or do not accept AP courses all together should be refunded for the tests they cannot take.The school should only charge the students the $15 it will cost the school to send back an untaken test. However, this refund policy should be reserved for legitimate reasons as to why a student cannot take an AP test, reasons that goes beyond a student feeling unprepared or unwilling to take the exam. Thus, students sign up for the exams in February with the intent to take them in May; however, there would be a degree of leniency in an otherwise much too harsh system.