Colleges Up the Ante on Awarding Credit for AP Classes

By Catherine Groux
Posted January 22, 2013 11:00 AM

Colleges are requiring students to work harder to get credits in AP courses.
Colleges are requiring students to work harder to get credits in AP courses.

Today, students across the country have the option of taking 34 different Advanced Placement (AP) classes in subjects like Chinese language and culture, psychology and environmental science, the College Board reports. The rigorous courses are designed to replicate college-level classes and help students build the skills they will need on the road to a bachelor's degree. For this reason, most four-year colleges in the U.S. and more than 60 other countries give students academic credits for earning a certain score on their AP exams.

However, in recent years, select colleges have upped the ante when it comes to AP courses, forcing students to earn higher scores on their exams to receive academic credits, or not awarding them with credits for these classes at all.

Schools Require Students to Receive Higher Exam Scores

In the past, most schools awarded students with credits for their AP courses if they earned a score of three or higher on their exam. However, this has slowly changed in recent years, as more schools mandate their students earn scores of four or five to receive credits, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Still, at some schools, earning a four or five on an AP exam is not enough to receive college credits. The Tribune reports that the University of Chicago does not give credits for any one-semester AP courses, regardless of how well students do on their exams. Additionally, Northwestern University does not award credits for AP courses in comparative government and politics.

Dartmouth College Ends Credits for AP Courses

As more colleges expect students to earn higher scores on their AP exams to receive credits, New Hampshire's Dartmouth College is taking the trend one step further by not giving students credits for any AP classes. Beginning with the Class of 2018, Dartmouth will no longer give college credits for any AP scores, with the fear that these high school classes are not as rigorous as college-level courses, The New York Times reports.

In order to determine how well AP courses prepare students for college classes, Dartmouth professors gave incoming students a condensed version of the school's psychology 1 final exam to see how they would do. Of the more than 100 students who scored a five on the AP psychology exam, about 90% failed the Dartmouth test.

Although College Board officials were skeptical of Dartmouth's research, professors viewed it as a sign that high school students do not learn as much in AP courses as they do in college classes.

"The concern that we have is that increasingly, AP has been seen as equivalent to a college-level course, and it really isn't, in our opinion," Hakan Tell, a classics professor and chairman of the college's Committee on Instruction, told The Associated Press.

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