Opting-out of AP exams

Should you do it and is it worth it?


Portia Dai, Editorial Board

Many sophomores and the majority of upperclassmen are taking advanced placement (AP) classes this school year. The pinnacle of stress always culminates towards the end of the year in the form of AP exams. While most students will end up taking the exams, there are a select few who choose to opt-out. Why do these students opt-out and is it really worth it?

The first step to considering opting-out of taking the exam is assessing why you’re thinking about not taking the exam. Mr. McCulla, an AP World teacher, says that many students who opt- out most likely do so due to the $94 fee students must pay after taking all six of their provided exams by FCPS. There are also people who aren’t confident that they could pass the exam. This seems reasonable at first glance, but if given more thought, it seems much more efficient to simply drop the class before the AP exam opt-out deadline if a student doesn’t feel they could pass the exam. The student wouldn’t be charged for the exam, and they wouldn’t have to sit through an entire year of a class that they wouldn’t be earning college credit for.

Not taking the AP exam is a huge waste of money since FCPS is paying for $564 worth of AP exams and not taking them is like being offered $564 of your favorite ice cream and choosing not to eat it. If you don’t take an AP exam because you think you won’t do well on it, it’s likely you may also think you’ll do poorly in the class overall. If this translates into you failing the class, colleges can see this and possibly not admit you or have you retake the course, adding unnecessary costs to the already steep price of tuition. A better solution would be to get a feel for the class during the time before the opt-out deadline and dropping the class if it feels too challenging.

As many students surveyed by the Oakton Outlook have said, you are already taking the class, so you might as well just take the exam because there’s always the chance that you will do good and this will benefit you as you begin to apply for colleges. Personally, Mr. McCulla says he would choose the six paid exams carefully and opt-out of the exams of any additional AP classes he takes. This appears to be a good strategy because you would be fully utilizing the paid exams and using them proficiently. 

The opt-out deadline (last Friday, October 25) has already passed, but if you’re considering opting- out of an exam next year, more information can be found by going to the website www.fcps.edu and entering “ap test” into the search bar.