Lowering AP requirement unburdens high school students

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Lowering AP requirement unburdens high school students

By Isabella Winkler

Most college students remember the agony of AP test preparation, whether experiencing it firsthand or witnessing it. Endless study sessions and practice tests all led up to that dreaded week of nonstop test-taking. We regurgitated our knowledge of Mongolian imperialism, derivatives and DNA replication until we couldn’t tell the subjects apart.

We memorized exactly what scores we needed on each exam to get college credit and when we finally got our results, some were pleasantly surprised. Others fell short of their college’s standards.

Here at the University, some classes used to require a score of 4 or 5 on the respective AP exam to receive credit. Now, thanks to a new Illinois law, public colleges are required to give credit for a 3 on an AP exam. EJ

This law takes some weight off the shoulders of high school students that are already under so much pressure to succeed. Some of us may have loaded up our high school schedules with AP classes in the hopes of standing out to colleges and brightening our résumé. But this involved a trade-off between good grades, getting enough sleep or having a life outside of school.

According to the American Psychological Association, 31 percent of teens report feeling overwhelmed and 30 percent report feeling depressed or sad as a result of stress.EJ Between the pressure from schools to perform well on the ACT and maintain high GPAs, AP test scores are just another factor contributing to the overwhelming amount of stress in high schoolers’ lives.

As of now, only 16 states award college credit for 3 on an AP exam.ej Hopefully, these states are setting the stage for the law to become universal.

Some people might be worried that giving credit for all passing scores on AP exams will lower the standards for college students, but the law actually promotes higher high school achievement. If students know that college credit will be more accessible, they will be encouraged to take more difficult, college-level AP classes. And they will enjoy these classes more without the pressure of receiving a near-perfect score on the exam.

The law also makes college more accessible for students. At the University, the undergraduate base rate per credit hour is $409. If a student with a non-math major could receive credit for the University’s Calculus I class by passing the AP exam, he or she would save $2,045. http://citl.illinois.edu/online-learning/tuition-feesej

College course requirements tend to be rigid and don’t always allow for students to take classes critical to their majors from the start. As a pre-law student, I was forced to take a calculus class that I already took in high school because I didn’t get a 5 on the AP exam.

If a student passes the AP exam for a class that is not going toward his or her major, it shouldn’t be required to take the class again at the University if the student already demonstrated his or her knowledge of the subject in high school.

Students have to graduate with a specific number of credit hours, so if they could dedicate those hours to predominantly focus on their majors, this would save them time and money. The new law could allow students to come into college with a larger amount of necessary credits, which is all the more important given the latest Monetary Award Program grant legislation, which cut state funding of grants for college students based on financial need.ej

If this legislation became universal, it would help take stress off high school students while still promoting hard work and achievement. At a point where college is becoming less and less affordable, this law is a stepping stone in making the path to college a smoother journey.

Isabella is a freshman in ACES.

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