Saving money and studying habits: why even seniors should take AP tests

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Jocelyn Hsu

Taking and passing AP exams save students money. However, it’s not worth it to be overwhelmed.

As students move towards senior year, many consider adding challenges to their class schedules. Taking AP classes and passing the AP exams represent student readiness for college while always saving money for the future. 

College Readiness

“AP courses are ‘college-level’ and can therefore expose a student to what a college course might be like. This helps a student have an easier transition from high school to college. However, it is okay to wait until college to experience a college-level course,” said Winter Jones, Amador Valley High School Counselor. 

While seniors have fewer incentives to take the AP exams, college readiness can never be underestimated as a fourth of college freshmen drop out. Pricey as the tests are, staying in good studying habits is immensely important.

“Some colleges will allow a score of 3, 4, or 5 to grant them either some college units in a particular area or the ability to skip a lower level class in a particular area,” said Jones.

Savings and Payoff

Passing AP exams not only saves time but also saves students from spending on course materials such as textbooks. A college hard-copy textbook can cost as much as $400. The college course price is approximately $1800 for a three-credit course

“I am currently taking AP chemistry and AP art. I am planning on taking the AP exam to make my college application stand out a bit. If I pass the exams, I would no longer need to pay class fees and buy expensive textbooks,” said Jenny Fu (’24).

  Some colleges only waive one or two semesters of credits with AP, but others allow for more. If a student is accepted to a college that allows multiple years waived, the payoff is tremendous in money and time saved.

“If you take AP exams and get a 4 or 5, you may be able to graduate early if you use your AP exams to get ahead on first-year requirements. This would save you money. Also, you can get merit-based financial aid which will help you save money. I believe that it is worth it to take the exams because of the potential benefits of skipping classes in college, earning college credit, and lessening financial burden,” said Angela Huang (’23).

Balance and Health

Although it’s beneficial for high schoolers to take challenging classes, students should always evaluate their abilities and not be overwhelmed. Never let the loss overweight the gains. 

“Due to the variables in earning college units, students should not count on this and use it as a reason to load up on too many APs. Becoming overwhelmed or earning non-passing grades in any courses is not good for students or their future plans,” said Jones