Many parents write to me asking about high school testing options. Sometimes it seems confusing, but each test is simple to understand once you know what makes them unique and how they can work to your child's benefit. Tammy wrote to me recently about AP Exams:
I saw an ad in the local school bulletin.They are having AP Exams. Is that something my son can take to show his "intelligence" in a subject or is it more like the CLEP Exams?! I know I didn't word that properly, but you know what I mean, I believe.Or is it a test to take to see if you can take an AP class? I think he might be ready for the SPANISH AP Exam. would be wise to take this? He's nearly done with RS Spanish, has one more level, but by time he takes the test, he may be done. Thanks!
AP exams are subject exams. They measure how much your student knows in a subject like economics or history. They are not a general test that show grade levels, so they can't be used like a standardized test. They aren't an intelligence test. They aren't the same as the SAT or ACT college admission test. AP tests cover just ONE subject per test.
The AP exam is taken at the end of an AP class. However, ANYONE can take an AP test, even if you haven't taken an AP class. In public schools, they don't always offer every AP class that kids want or need. Those children are allowed to study a subject on their own and take the AP test without having an AP class. Basically they are doing it just like we do - homeschooling the class and taking the test.
You don't have to take a test to get into an AP class. You don't have to have an AP class to take the AP test.
If you decide to take any of the tests, it's a good idea to give a practice test at home first, to be certain your son can pass. Once you are certain he can pass, then you can do some additional study to increase the score. Some AP teachers suggest that students register for and take both the AP and the SAT Subject test for each class. That way if kids do poorly on the AP and choose not to report the score to a college, they will still have the (easier) SAT test scores to show for all their hard work.
I think it's a good idea to take a subject test after completing a third year of foreign language. College that require extra testing will often require it in foreign language more than other areas.
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