As the first two weeks of May approach many of Ridgewood High School’s juniors and seniors begin to prepare for their AP examinations. AP, or Advanced Placement, is a program run by the College Board that offers numerous college level courses in high schools all across the country. RHS offers 25 different AP classes with subjects ranging from Art History to Computer Science. Students have spent the past three quarters preparing for these exams in their classes. The culmination of all of their hard work will be a three hour written test, usually taken in the Campus Center. The exam itself is scored out of a scale from one to five, five being the highest score offered. The common misconception about getting a 5 on an AP exam is that students think that you have to get close to all of the material correct to receive a five, however for many courses that is not the case.
Why take AP exams? There are two main incentives for RHS students to take these challenging courses. The first: an A in an Advanced Placement course factors into your GPA as a 5.0, rather than Honors or College Prep courses in which an A factors into your GPA as a 4.5 and 4.0 respectively. The other is, if students do well on their exams (a four or a five), they may have the opportunity to place out of introductory courses in college! This offers students the ability to “skip” the entry level courses they have already taken in high school and delve into other more complex and interesting courses in that subject area.
In one aspect, RHS differs from most schools in AP exam policies. In order to receive the 5.0 weighting scale in one’s GPA, one must sit for the exam. If a student does not do this, they will only receive honors credit for the course. While the point of an AP class is to prepare students for the AP test, by the end of the year many students, especially seniors already accepted to college, no longer want to take the exam. However, receiving honors credit for a more rigorous class often makes students feel pressured to take these exams, even if they really do not want to. It has been reported that some students sign up to take the exam, but when it was administered they simply draw pictures all over it.
Actions like that call into question Ridgewood High School’s policy on AP exams. Not only does it force students to give up their time, it also brings down the average for AP scores. So, is it really what is best for the students and for the school? With this question in mind, good luck to students as they begin their preparation for AP exams.