Reasons for drop in AP students unclear

Helen Le and David Hancock

May 12 marked the end of the dreaded AP testing season. This came as a huge sigh of relief to AP students who have struggled physically, mentally, emotionally and financially in preparation for their AP exams.

With the reduced fee for AP exams rising from $5 to $63, students who typically rely on the lower costs for taking these tests must reconsider their financial situation and make decisions accordingly. As a result, some students cannot sign up for exams they want.

“Because the cost went up this year… instead of taking three AP exams, I took only two,” junior Kristen Phan said.

Since last year, Bear Creek has had a 20 percent decrease in the number of AP exams taken. However, other statistics, including the drop in number of students enrolled in AP classes overall as well as a negligible decrease in the number of fee waivers used, suggest that the increase in price of reduced AP exams is not solely responsible for the lower number of AP exams being taken.

Regardless of reason, students who use fee waivers are concerned about the impact the increased price will have on their ability to afford AP exams.
“The loss of funds made me contemplate if I wanted to take the AP test or not,” junior Kelly Huynh said. “Five dollars wasn’t a lot to risk, but now that it’s $63, it became a really big risk.”

One of the primary motivations for taking AP exams is the opportunity to earn college credit, but students can also showcase their talents in specialized subjects with a high score on their exam.

“I feel for any student taking four or more AP exams,” junior Julian Bernado said. “I truly believe money shouldn’t disallow people from showing their mastery of courses.”

Students who qualify for the fee waivers are verified by Vice Principal Sara Baysinger, according to Secretary Nancy Figueroa.
“If a student is on free or reduced lunch… students who are homeless or migrant, in foster care, or on food stamps also qualify for a fee waiver,” Figueroa said.

As always, preparation for AP exams depends on the material taught and how well that information is retained. Students reported different levels of confidence for their tests according to such.

“I felt extremely prepared for both APUSH and calc, as we did many practice tests,” junior Nicole Lam said. “For chemistry, I knew the majority of the material but wasn’t prepared for the test itself.”

“I felt very prepared [for the AP European History exam],” sophomore Michael Villanueva said. “I asked my teacher if I could have some study time and I asked my friends to quiz me on some certain subjects.”

The workload of an AP class, which may affect a student’s decision to take one or not, also aims to assist the student in ultimately passing the exam.

“[Summer homework] is essential if the teacher has a specific lesson plan for the year, so we can cover all the material in time for the AP exam,” junior Ali Hatchard said.

Whether the decrease in the number of students taking AP exams is due to the increase in price for reduced tests or personal reasons such as preference for CP classes, students are always encouraged to challenge themselves with as much as they can.