The Future of AP Exams

Polina Frenkel, Campus Reporter

This year, Kent School made a substantial shift from the traditional Advanced Placement Program to the Advanced Studies Program. The change is a recent one, and the effect on both courses and the exams themselves is still unfolding. 

“Advanced Placement was a very good idea,” says Dr. MacNeil. The initial objective of the AP program, which began in the 1950s, was to test students for certain college courses in order to offer them the advanced placement in college and allow them to progress through college more quickly. This option was particularly popular among soldiers returning from World War II and the Korean War who desired a college degree but were older than other students owing to the postponement of schooling and so could complete college faster. 

Over time, the AP Program developed in a number of interesting directions. “Most of the AP courses are meant to correspond to broad college level courses, and independent schools like Kent have decided that the value of the AP Program doesn’t exactly fit with the educational goals of school,” Dr. MacNeil adds. 

Moving away from the AP curricula affected all the departments at Kent differently, and it also affected students, because the AP exams became unrequired. The main impact was reflected in the classrooms, where every AP teacher has their own conception of a college course, which doesn’t always correspond to the AP curriculum. 

“I have done a self-study this year in order to take the AP exam,” Maria Aleksandrova ’23 shares. “There is no pressure to take the exams because you don’t have to send out the scores if they are not as good. So I would recommend taking the exam if you took the Advanced Studies course at Kent.”

On the other hand, there are students who strongly disagree with this idea. “AP exams don’t have any effect on your college application,” says Gabe Bennett ’23. “The four-hour exam is not worth it.” 

While it is, indeed, so difficult to achieve a perfect five on the exam, there are also students who take the AP exam without even taking the Advanced Studies course at Kent. “I mean, why not? I could get a good score and send it to colleges,” they share. “There is no pressure,” shares Arianna Prior ’23.

The idea of the AP courses is to give students the opportunity to study college level courses; however, by moving away from these particular courses, Kent will still give kids an opportunity to engage in such programs, just not under the “AP” name. “While the Advanced Studies Program is still relatively new, its long-term impact on students will be visible after some time,” Dr. MacNeil adds.