Looking back, were AP Tests worth it?

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When our high school counselors told us to take every AP we could (because it would help us in college), they might have left out a few details.

Depending on what college and major you’re in, AP tests can be fruitful or pointless. There’s just so much bureaucracy over AP testing at UC Berkeley. If you’re in the College of Letters & Science, you’re prohibited from using AP tests to fulfill breadth requirements, for example. And in all the programs at UC Berkeley, AP credit is always capped at some point.

So which AP tests did we take that were actually worth it? (Incoming freshmen and hopeful UC Berkeley students, take note!) AP English language and literature was definitely one of them — you got to completely skip the dreaded reading and composition classes if you scored well enough. If you’re an engineer, you probably love your AP chemistry credit for saving you from Chemistry 1A and your humanities credits for fulfilling breadth (which, oddly, engineers can do, but L&S students cannot). AP tests for math were a good idea too: Plenty of freshmen start at classes above 1A. Whether they do well is a different story, of course.

But the truth is that none of us knew this coming into UC Berkeley. It’s easy to feel angry after you’ve come in and found out your AP tests did absolutely nothing for you. Even with students who benefited the most, there are certainly tests they had to waste — tests that they paid a lot of money to take and that they probably studied a great deal for. It’s definitely enough to irk some people.

But those of us at UC Berkeley who had to struggle with AP credit might comfort ourselves by trying a time-honored technique: looking to schools that have it worse. At most Ivy League schools, for example (and a lot of other private institutions), students aren’t awarded AP credit. At all. UC Berkeley looks downright generous by comparison.

And even when we don’t get to fill our requirements for our majors with AP tests (like having to take X number of language classes), we at least get units for taking them. Who knows? Somewhere down the line, it might save somebody from having to take that Scandinavian dance DeCal so that they have enough units to graduate. Plus, we guess we learned some neat stuff and ability to cram from AP classes.

Looking back, the way UC Berkeley handles AP tests seems far from perfect, sure. But it’s also far from being as horrible as it could be. And sometimes in life, that’s all we can really ask for, right?

Image Source: gruntzooki under Creative Commons

Contact Sherdil Niyaz at [email protected].