A large number of Academy’s seniors have registered to take at least one Advanced Placement exam in May. Their teachers have rigorously prepared them, and their parents have written fat checks in order to provide them the opportunity to accumulate college credits. AHN seniors represent just a small fraction of registrants around the world who take AP courses each year. Sophomores and juniors have motivations to do well, while seniors, who have been accepted to college, do not. With senioritis quickly setting in, there is no guarantee that seniors around the country will actually study for the standardized tests.
The uncertainty surrounding American seniors’ commitment to study for their AP exams, or even take them seriously on test day, is compounded by the factors that motivated them to take the courses in the first place. Some of them felt pressured to take AP exams in order to gain a competitive edge in college admissions. With taking AP or IB level courses becoming almost a prerequisite for applying to highly competitive universities, some students felt that they had no other choice besides loading up on AP exams.
Even students with weaker grades feel compelled to take AP courses as a way to compensate for real or over-exaggerated weaknesses on their transcripts. Students in public schools who have not taken college preparatory classes for the first three years of high school often feel the need to pad their records during senior year with challenging courses in order to indicate to colleges that they can successfully handle advanced level information.
Thus, love lof learning hardly represents the reason the vast majority of students sign up for AP courses. Furthermore, many students come to realize either that a) they have reached the limit of their dream college with regard to AP credits b) their college does not accept AP credits and/or c) only a perfect score would qualify them for college credits. This knowledge hardly galvanizes seniors to study.
Despite the motivations that led many a senior to sign up for AP credits, some benefits exist for gaining exposure to college-level material before high school students go off into the “real world.” No matter if students pass or fail the exams, at least the courses look good on their transcripts, they reason. However, many students do not realize that those AP scores follow them to college on their final transcripts. No doubt seniors who resist senioritis and who do well on their AP exams have an edge up when it comes to registering for competitive programs or courses with limited enrollments during their freshman year.