While other schools may discontinue AP exam credits, UT’s policy may remain unchanged

Jeremy Thomas

Amidst growing national concerns that Advanced Placement courses and exams are not rigorous enough to prepare students for higher education, UT’s credit by exam policy may remain unchanged.

The College Board, which develops the AP exams, released a report in February stating that last year’s secondary education students received some of the highest scores since the institution published their initial AP report in 2001. More than 14 percent of those students acquired the maximum allotted score of a five. For the first time, there was an increase in the number of students who scored a three or higher on the exam as well. 

Despite increasing AP exam scores, some universities’ officials across the nation question the thoroughness of AP courses and exams. In January, Dartmouth University announced it would no longer give college credit for AP exams. Instead the exam will be an indicator to place students in the proper class.  

For now, UT will continue accepting AP exam credits. David Laude, Senior Vice Provost for Enrollment and Graduation Management Professor, said he did not believe this decision is to be made as a general policy at the University. He said it is up to a department to decide whether or not AP courses equate expected rigor of UT courses.  

“The opinions about rigor vary by department and change over time as perception by the faculty about the quality of the AP exam and the equivalence of AP scores changes,” Laude said. “It is also possible that even when AP credit isn’t counted, a student who has enrolled in an AP course in high school and then takes the same course at UT, performs significantly better than a student who has not had the high school AP course. We have seen evidence of this with AP calculus — one of the best indicators that a student will succeed in a first semester calculus class at UT is if they took AP calculus in high school.”

History professor Erika Bsumek said she believes UT should continue taking AP exam credit.

“I understand why they would [stop taking credit],” Bsumek said, “But there are a lot of high school students who are capable of taking college level work. If they’ve done that college level work then I don’t think they should have to repeat it. However, I do encourage them to build on it.”

Bsumek said she believes there are benefits to AP coursework and exams despite the fact that for students, high school and college are fundamentally different experiences.

“If AP courses can help students make that transition from high school to college by getting them in the habit of carrying a heavier workload, meeting more deadlines and producing good work, then I can see the benefit of that,” Bsumek said. “I think that the exam has a number of different purposes that prepare students for college — earning college credit in high school is one purpose, but AP courses also meet the needs of students who want to be challenged more is another.” 

Shari Singh, an international relations and global studies junior, said she participated in AP courses and exams to reap the benefits before entering college.

“I thought the classes themselves were more valuable to me than taking the exams,” Singh said. “I took the classes because I thought they would be more challenging than high school classes, and at the same time, I could potentially earn college credit if I did well enough.”