Whether or not AP exams accurately reflect comprehension


Ellie Perkins

110 AP students responded to a poll asking whether or not they believed that AP exams accurately reflected their comprehension of the coursework.

Ellie Perkins, Staff Writer

Tests are meant to allow students to “show what they know,” but AP exams may miss that mark.

College Board administers AP exams to high school students across the country, with high testing expectations. Whether these expectations are appropriate is debatable. 

“It’s a timed exam, and I have several students who take more time to think about their answers,” said AP U.S. History teacher Erika Connolly. “Just because you take more time to think about your answers doesn’t mean that you’re any less academically astute.”

Even the writing component of the exams has become so uptight that many students feel they are restricted from truly showing what they understand.

“In the old exams, there were students who had a lot more of an ability to be an excellent history writer, or someone who could really convey their thoughts, where the new rubric is much more mathematically based,” said Connolly. “Students are so focused on the rubric that they forget to write a good history essay where they show how they see a pattern of facts.”

Despite this, not all teachers see it the same way.

“I believe that the scores my students get on the AP Chemistry exam do reflect their content knowledge of chemistry,” said AP Chemistry teacher Kathryn Turner. “Students that master the coursework from start to finish tend to score very well on the exam.”

Although admitting that sometimes a student will miss the mark due to test-taking skills, Turner believes that the AP exams accurately reflect the understanding at a relatively high degree of consistency.

Students have their own thoughts about AP exams.

“AP questions purposely try to trick people,” said junior Kimaya Ranjan. “A lot of the time they’re not a test of knowledge but a test of whether or not you can answer the questions.”

Just like AP teachers, the opinions among AP students vary as well.

“No cumulative test can be perfect, but I think they do a good job of showing how well you’ve learned the application of the topic,” said senior Katie Logg.

In a poll asking AP students whether or not they believed the exams accurately reflected their comprehension, 90 students answered “no” as opposed to only 19 that answered “yes.”