All the stress about the test: AP exams only one part of college admissions

She was avoiding it. She was delaying it and she knew it. Her AP scores were already posted on CollegeBoard three days, but for some inexplicable reason, senior Mikayla Marz had not checked them yet.  She didn’t feel anxious or nervous; she just didn’t want to see them. And now, for the same inexplicable reason, she pulled out her phone and stare at the blue CollegeBoard logo. Her fingers moved quickly and soon she was faced with her results. She wasn’t afraid to admit it then, she nearly cried. She had passed.

The Advanced Placement Exams are crucial to many juniors and seniors. Students fret over the exams for weeks, desperate to pass and get college credit.

When the scores came back, Marz, who took her AP United States History or APUSH exam junior year, felt hesitant.

“I thought I did a little bit better, but I didn’t,” Marz said. “I actually did not know what I would be expecting, but that wasn’t it.”

Looking back on the tests, Marz recalled that she was both tired and happy. Tired because she had just sat through a three-hour exam and happy because she had finally finished it.

“It was like such a huge weight on the shoulders,” she said, “Trying to prepare for it, especially while balancing all the classes at the same time.”

Senior Truc Phung felt the opposite after the test: she was realistic about her chances and was prepared.

“Actually I feel confidence,” Phung said, “Because I finished on time and I know that I did some stuff done right… [also], I already figured out what my score were going to be, so I wasn’t that surprised.”

Phung and Marz have since learned that AP tests, although important, are not the most important thing in their academic profiles.

“Probably, if you had a higher score, it would probably make it a bit easier and a little bit more impressive to colleges and make you stand out,” Marz said. “But if you don’t …I think they’ll still acknowledge that you’ve tried [and] that you took the class and that you took the AP test.”

Counselor Sara Tones agreed. Colleges do not reject students based on one mistake in their résumé; they look at it as a whole.

“Usually, most of the tests you take,” Tones said, “they’re not even reflected until after college admission decisions are made. If you take the test your senior year, they don’t even see them until you already had your admissions.”

Senior Hanah Choice believed that high scores do help; however, lower scores do not necessarily hinder a person’s chances at attending a good college.

“Because really that AP exam was one day and if you have a bad test day, it wouldn’t really affect what you learned,” she said.

And even if students fail, they can still make up their scores in various ways.

“Take the class in college,” Tones said. “You could take the exam again, if you really want to spend the money again, or you could explore other options at your university as to what they offered for like other options for credit.”

Phung thought that it would actually be more beneficial if students take some classes in college, rather than in high school.

“You take the same AP class in high [school] as the college,” she said, “But if you take it during college, you will get more college experience, you get more fun experience.”

In essence, the importance of AP exams is not only in a student passing it and obtaining college credit, it is about the student’s experience. The AP exam does not guarantee acceptance into a college nor will it guaranteed an advantage.

According to AP Calculus teacher Sheri Koshkin, “some colleges don’t accept the credit.”

“I think taking tests on that level is a good experience, going into college and not having the pressure of college exams,” Koshkin said. “We would like to see them pass the AP test but…they still have the experience and have a better understanding of what it’s going to take.”