AP and Advanced Studies
I don’t want you to have the impression that I am knocking the AP program, it obviously can have some tremendous benefits. Students who are in the top of their class, and doing well, typically can score well on an AP exam and have that credit transferred once they go off to college. However, not all students are A students, and not all students do well on AP exams. There should be no shame in being a B student, as most students are, and opportunities should exist for these students to excel in both high school and college. Here is some information that you might want to know about AP scores.
The AP exam is graded on a simple 5-point scale. Students who take the AP exam will get a score ranging from 1 to 5. The College Board defines the numbers as:
• 5 – Extremely well qualified to receive college credit
• 4 – Well qualified to receive college credit
• 3 – Qualified to receive college credit
• 2 – Possibly qualified to receive college credit
• 1 – No recommendation to receive college credit
Not every college treats AP scores the same way. According to Allen Grove, contributing communist for the New York Times, “although the College Board defines a 2 as “possibly qualified” to receive college credit, almost no college will accept a score of 2. In fact, most selective colleges will not accept a 3 for college credit”. Many SUNY colleges won’t accept a 3 for college credit. This will sometimes depend on the intended major of a college-bound student, and the credits they are attempting to transfer.
“In the majority of cases”, says Grove, “a student who scores a 4 or 5 will receive college credit. In rare cases, a school may require a 5. The exact guidelines vary from college to college, and they often vary from department to department within a college”. For example, a student may receive credit for a 3 in Spanish, but the same college might require a 5 in Chemistry.
The national average score on AP exams is just below a 3. In 2008, close to 3 million AP exams were administered nationally. The scores broke down as:
• 5 – 14% of test takers
• 4 – 19% of test takers
• 3 – 24% of test takers
• 2 – 22% of test takers
• 1 – 21% of test takers
Keep in mind that only 20-25% of high school graduates nationally take at least one AP exam. In a smaller school district, a graduating class of 125 may only have 31 students take an AP exam (25% of the class).
• Of those 31 students, 4 students (14%) will earn a 5.
• 6 students (19%) will earn a 4.
• 8 students (24%) will earn a 3.
• 7 students (22%) will earn a 2.
• 6 students (21%) will earn a 1.
Again, the average AP score is just below 3. The top 20-25% of all graduating seniors usually makes up the body of students taking AP exams, and only a little over half of those students earn a transferrable grade. Only one-third of them score a 4 or 5. If half of the top 20-25% of all graduating seniors can’t score a 3 or above on an AP exam, shouldn’t there be another way for those students to excel?
The Advanced Studies Program, through Genesee Community College’s ACE Program, helps to offer those opportunities to students who may not be in the top half of the top 20-25% of their class. Through this program, college level courses are offered to students right at their high school by their high school instructors who have been approved by GCC to teach the course for college credit.
In short, these instructors are approved to be adjunct instructors following the same guidelines as all of our adjuncts. They must also teach the course curriculum as though they were teaching a class of college students. Final grades are submitted to the college, and formally transcripted by our College Registrar. The credit earned on that college transcript can be transferred to any SUNY college, and most other colleges and universities with a grade of C or above.
Visit the ACE Programs web site to see what some former Advanced Studies students have said about earning college credit while still in high school:
Allen Grove is the former director of a program for new college students, a professor of English, and a freelance writer who focuses on college admissions, student success, and the transition from high school to college.