AP Exams put to the test

Student assessment administrator Bill Krammes gives insight to the benefits of AP exams
 
By Olivia Eiler

Every year, hundreds of New Albany High School students decide to enroll in one or more of the eighteen AP classes that NAHS offers. After making this decision, they must then choose whether or not to take the AP exam at the end of the course. For students first beginning their AP career, signing up for the class can be a big decision that comes with many changes.

“[AP classes] are rigorous,” Assistant Principal Mr. Bill Krammes. “When we talk about rigor, we don’t just mean that it’s more difficult. The expectations, the in-depth understanding, and not just memorizing things are the whole idea behind AP. [You are able] to really understand what you’re learning. [You are] not just memorizing it and being able to regurgitate facts.”

APbooksOnce a student has decided that an AP class is right for them, they must then make a decision about taking the AP exam at the end of the year. These exams, which are administered nationally, cover information from the entire duration of the class. Scores are then awarded on a scale from one to five, with five being the highest. Many colleges offer credit for a score of three, four, or five. Because of this, AP exams are an excellent way to finance a college career.

“If you’re going out of state, typically, college classes cost $300 to $400 per credit hour. Most college classes are three credits. So you’re talking about a $1,000 scholarship by taking AP and passing the test,” Mr. Krammes said.

However, AP exams, excluding those for math and science courses, have a fee of $89. Although this fee discourages some students from taking the test, it is a good option for the long-run.

“You’re going to have to pay a fee when you go to college,” Mr. Krammes said. “The fee of $89 for an AP exam is a lot more doable than paying the $1,000.”

Mr. Krammes assured that this fee should not trouble prospective AP students.

“We have kids that have trouble affording the fees, so we provide all kinds of support,” Mr. Krammes said. “We’re never going to have a kid that won’t be allowed to take an AP exam if they want to because of financial situations.”

The benefits of AP exams extend beyond finances. They also provide a method for students to gauge their performance in relation to other students.

“[AP tests] to tell you how well you fit in with your peers,” Mr. Krammes said. “[Instead of being a] big fish in a small pond at New Albany High School, now you’re just a very small fish competing worldwide with all kinds of kids to go to college. It’ll really tell you where you stand.”

The AP exam for a particular course is the same across the United States. For this reason, it provides an accurate indicator for student knowledge comparison.

“There is no way I can compare an ‘A’ in calculus [at New Albany] with an ‘A’ in calculus from somebody in Texas. The two classes are totally different. The two schools are totally different. The way that I can compare myself to this kid from Texas is by taking a common assessment. I take that AP exam, and I get a four. This kid takes that same AP exam and gets a three. When I start looking at all the numbers, I can really find out if I know what I’m talking about or how do I fit in with all of that,” Mr. Krammes said.

Many AP students recognize these benefits and take full advantage of New Albany High School’s AP program.

“The AP exam is an essential part of the AP program,” junior AP student Jacob McDonald said. “Anyone who says they’re enrolled just to learn is not in AP for the right reason. If an avid learner wanted to learn, then they would study independently using online resources or public resources such as the library. The person in an AP class who doesn’t want to take the AP exam just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Mr. Krammes is proud of the AP classes that New Albany offers and the opportunities that they bring to students.

“We’re working really hard. Our teachers are working very hard to make sure they’re providing a quality educational experience. We will just continue to do what we can to make sure that everyone is getting what they need. We’re trying to provide an environment for our kids where they can reach for their fullest potential and understand what that potential is going to be. Without that AP experience, a lot of our kids don’t really know how much they can do,” Mr. Krammes said.

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