AP exams and the additional materials students use


Taylor Anderson Staff Writer

128 students are currently taking 3 or more Advanced Placement (AP) classes, and they will undoubtedly have to spend money on outside materials, including preparatory books and tutors. However, some believe that ASL provides the best resources needed to do well on AP examinations while others believe that these additional efforts are necessary.

Kat Bohner (’19) thinks it’s helpful for students to buy AP prep books since, although ASL provides good resources for actual classes, AP books are needed for the final exam. She believes doing well on AP exams requires a different skill set than doing well in ASL classes. “I think that the College Board as a whole is a very different learning experience from what the school tries to do,” she said. Bohner currently uses her class notes and textbook to study for tests but is planning on using AP guides for her examinations in May.

Comparatively, Tristan Pierce (’18) believes he is able to succeed in his two AP classes, AP Biology and AP Economics, without buying materials outside of school. “I don’t find them [AP books and guides] tremendously useful,” he said. “The textbook that was given by the school is what I use for most of my studying material because it actually comes with preset questions in there.”

Some classes, however, like AP Computer Science (APCS), require students to buy revision guides. APCS student Dom Alberts (’20) doesn’t mind having to buy a compulsory book since his teacher provides other free resources, such as CodeHS, a program including a course that helps students prepare for the APCS exam. “I haven’t bought anything that isn’t required because they provide a lot of online programs that they’ve signed us up for,” he said.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“With things like math textbooks, for example, those are reusable so I think the reusable reading material is something that the school should provide,” Dom Alberts (’20).[/perfectpullquote]

However, Alberts thinks that if classes recommend or require students to buy additional books, the administration should consider buying these materials for students. Alberts believes that students should buy their own guides that contain questions they must write in but not book or guides that can be reused. “With things like math textbooks, for example, those are reusable so I think the reusable reading material is something that the school should provide,” he said.

College Counselor Nicole Thompson also believes it might be worthwhile for ASL to look into buying materials for students. “If we are asking students, recommending them even, to buy the materials it would be worth exploring whether or not we could make that investment,” she said.

As a peer tutor Alberts recognizes that ASL provides accessible resources, including AP books during the NHS sale. He believes students can access books and tutoring without having to leave ASL. “Even though some people might not be able to have a paid tutor, there are other options that can get them the help they need,” he said.

Thompson realises it can be difficult for some students to afford the fee of the exams and cost of materials and believes it is something ASL should consider paying for considering many colleges require challenging classes.“There are some realities of being a high school student and family that colleges are not always very aware of,” she said.

Pierce believes ASL provides good enough resources without having to use tutors and outside materials. He realizes that, despite the fact that some people need to tutors since they are struggling with AP classes, outside material and help isn’t always needed. “ASL is a very competitive school. I think they [students who use outside materials or help] want to give themselves whatever edge they can get,” he said.

Although Bohner often uses AP guides and books to help her for examinations, she doesn’t believe ASL should use tuition to provide students with guides. She prefers ASL spends money on learning enrichment rather than on AP test prep materials. However, she often sees students spending a lot of money on outside help. “At ASL itself…the amount of effort you put in is somehow tied to the number of books that you buy and the number of tutors that you have.”

However, Bohner acknowledges that it may be useful for ASL to consider paying for some students’ expenses regarding the actual cost of the test. Each AP exam costs about £120 and ASL students often take more than one AP each year. “It seems like kind of a scam, really, that the AP is required by so many colleges and the test itself is really expensive,” she said.

Thompson also thinks that sometimes it can be unfair to ask students to pay for the fees of exams. “In an ideal world, if it was feasible from a budget standpoint to cover the cost, I would definitely argue for taking that [fees] off a student’s plate,” she said.

Photo by Emily Forgash

To read more about the costs of standardized testing, see the recent editorial titled ‘Testing Culture Exposes Privilege’.