Where one of our classically-designed courses happens to overlap with the content of an AP test, we have noted this so that students have the option of registering for that AP exam. However, we continue to believe that students will do best, both in their high school years and with their college applications, when they pursue a variety of educational goals.
Parents and students should be very clear about what AP classes accomplish. College credit can only be awarded when the student takes an AP exam and earns an acceptable score.
Here at the Well-Trained Mind Academy, we are skeptical of the value of the AP exam for students, for two major reasons:
- AP exams are designed and graded by the College Board, which makes staggering amounts of money from these tests. The College Board thus has a vested interest in positioning these exams as “essential” for high achieving students. This is simply not the case. AP exams are one of MANY ways that students can demonstrate mastery of their subjects.
- While many AP classes are rich in content, their ultimate point is to prepare students for an exam. In theory, a student is able to show mastery of college-level content by earning a high score on an AP exam. We know, however, based on feedback from those who have scored AP exams and from college admissions officers that
- a) students have to be trained in how to take the AP exam in order to do well; they cannot simply rely on college-level mastery and
- b) many colleges no longer accept AP credit as college credit.
For these reasons, the Academy prefers to offer well-designed, wide-ranging upper level classes without limiting ourselves to AP preparation.