AP Exams are enough – why are AP students taking final exams?

Story by Ben Fyke, Staff Writer/Editor/Social Media Manager

According to the College Board, 2,808,990 students nationwide took 5,090,324 Advanced Placement (AP) exams in 2018, a 3% increase from the previous year. At Stonington High School, AP classes are very popular among the student body. However, an AP student at SHS is still required to take some sort of “final assessment” during exam week. This is something that needs to be done away with.

One reason AP students should not have to take a final exam is the difference in AP and SHS exam schedules. As opposed to taking final examinations during the last week of school in June, AP exams are administered in mid-May. As a result, AP students are finished with the coursework for their classes more than a month before regular high school classes are finished. There is no need to reassess students on the content they were already given a 2+ hour test on the month before. The extra time can also lead to amazing and unique educational opportunities, like the Armed Forces Luncheon in Mr. McCarney’s AP/ECE U.S. History class, that do not necessarily deal with specific course material.

A lot of AP teachers here at Stonington High have also already instituted non-traditional assessments in lieu of a final exam. The AP Chemistry final is a lab, the ECE English 1010 final is a seminar, the AP/ECE U.S. History final is a combination of the aforementioned luncheon and a seminar, and the AP Environmental Science final last year was project-based. However, these assignments should be included in the Q4 grade, which would be a more accurate representation of their weight, rather than in the Semester 2 grade category, which carries a hefty 20% of the semester grade.

One goal of final exams in general is to keep students motivated throughout the semester, as performance on the exam constitutes 20% of the semester grade. Therefore, some will say that the elimination of final exams in AP classes will lead to lower grades in those classes. However, this is not the case; students will be motivated by the AP Exam, which in many ways is more important than the SHS exam as it determines eligibility for college credit. AP classes are by definition different than regular classes, and should be given that treatment by Stonington High School.