Number of Students Taking AP Tests Soars at Cam High, but Not Without Problems


Photo By: Alex Rozbicki

Students work hard in the language lab, where the servers crashed during the AP Spanish test. More AP tests were sold this year than any previous year at Cam High.

Cam High sold 1052 AP tests this year, more than any sold previously, according to Mrs. Tammy Boyle, ASB bookkeeper. In addition, a glitch with the language lab’s computers caused a number of students to have to retake one section of the AP Spanish test because of uploading and server issues.

Speculation on the reasons motivating students to take more AP tests, as well as why more students are signing up for more AP classes in the first place, vary from teacher to student. However, the majority census seems to point toward the increased benefits of taking AP courses due to college credit offered by College Board.

I’m not sure that the [AP] system is ‘better’ or ‘more valuable’ than Honors or CP classes,” said Mrs. Tawney Safran, AP European History teacher. “What it offers is a mental and academic challenge, for those willing to take it. Furthermore, it provides a way for students to earn college credit.”

More colleges are now accepting a passing score of either a 3, 4, or 5 as credits for prerequisite classes required for first-year undergraduate students. By taking AP courses and passing the AP exam, students are able to save money by not having to take as many classes at certain colleges, such as those in the UC system. For example, a score of 3 on the AP Calculus AB and BC exam is accepted as college credit at Stanford, UCLA, and MIT.

Safran not only encourages her students to take the European History test, but other social science exams that are similar, such as AP Human Geography and AP World History.

“Last year Mrs. Maygren (the former AP Euro teacher) provided me with some AP World History resources that she  had come across and encouraged her students to peruse through,” said Safran. “I didn’t even know that we could offer support for other AP classes that we don’t offer until she told me.”

Over half of the 11 students that took the World History exam last year passed.

This year, 35 European History students are taking the World History exam and an additional 10 are taking the Human Geography exam. Safran encouraged them because she believes they are more than capable.

Challenge yourself every day. No regrets. Know that you are capable of anything,” said Safran.

Some teachers make it mandatory for their students to take the AP exam correlated with the class.

“I require 100% of my students to take the test.  I believe they can do it, and so it’s kind of like my way of telling them that I believe in them, so they should believe in themselves, too!” said Mrs. Irina Kennedy, AP Calculus BC teacher for the past 4 years. “Also, it keeps them motivated throughout the year if they know they have to take the test. They don’t have an excuse to slack off.”

Cam High’s AP Physics Teacher for 14 years, Mr. Donald Crowell, also requires his students to take at least one of the two tests correlated with the AP Physics class. “You’re not supposed to take an AP class and not take the AP test – it’s almost a form of academic dishonesty. And even more, it’s heavily frowned upon by the colleges to take an AP class and not take the test,” said Crowell.

Even with all the benefits and teachers’ urgings, the upfront cost of $95 per AP exam can be deterring to students.

“It’s not fair for seniors, or anyone I guess, who are taking five or more AP classes to pay $95 per test. The administration justifies it by saying that we’ll save money later in college by taking these classes, and its our choice to take these classes in the first place… but it’s like we’re paying College Board to get into college in the first place,” said Mina Pasaraba, senior.

Other students feel that the cost of the AP tests is justified. “It does cost a lot of money to hold all of the tests,” said Brian Jeffers, sophomore. “So the money is probably not being squandered.”

Students who cannot afford the $95 AP tests and are eligible for free-and-reduced lunch can purchase the test for $5, a fraction of the original price.

“For those students who apply, College Board reduces their price about halfway, and the government picks up the rest of the cost,” said Boyle.

At the end of the day, teachers like Safran believe that the AP system is a program worth the attention it is receiving. “My hope is that more and more students decide to enroll and at least attempt a class like this so that I (and other AP teachers) can help them develop into college ready and confident students.”