AP registration date moved up to instill dedication in students

William Tong, Correspondent

There is a new factor that could influence many students’ decisions on whether or not to take AP exams in the 2019-2020 school year: an earlier registration date.

AP classes are considered the most rigorous set of courses that Naperville Central has to offer and include a wide variety of topics, from U.S. History to Music Theory. As registration for AP exams is nearing, many students need to make the decision of whether or not to take them.

The registration for AP exams happens in early February, with a late deadline occuring in  the beginning of March. This year, registration starts on Feb. 4. Students decide whether or not they want to take an AP exam either after having taken about a month of that class, if it is a semester long course, or about five months of the class if it is a year long course.  

After testing with pilot programs, however, The College Board, which is the national organization that administers all AP classes and exams, as well as other standardized tests like the SAT, has decided to make registration dates earlier, potentially as early as September or October.  

“[The] fall exam registration supports deeper engagement and focus in AP courses,” according to the College Board website.

With the earlier registration date, more is on the line. There is less time to be indecisive, and students would theoretically be more committed to the class, working harder and more efficiently to achieve the goal of a good score on the exam.  

“[The College Board] is finding that the students are doing more of the daily work that’s involved to earn a qualifying score of a three,” testing coordinator Tracy Rootham said.  “As a whole, the class is more of a team, [saying] we’re going to have success together; we’re going to do this together.”

She explained that The College Board would also be adding resources.

“They’re doing an online question bank, unit guides and other resources, which will be very good for the teachers that are new to AP so that everybody is on the same level,” Rootham said. “All the information and material is being covered.”

Several members of the Central community have brought up some potential problems with this change.  

“I can see the merit in wanting to have a greater commitment to AP exams, but […] especially for me, going into my senior year, I think that it needlessly requires seniors to spend hundreds of dollars and hours and hours of time on studying and preparing for an exam that won’t even give us college credit,” current junior Kyle Zhao said.

Randall Smith, who teaches two AP courses, AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP Human Geography, strongly emphasized two additional problems that were apparent.  

“The bulk of our students take [AP Government] second semester,” Smith said. “They’re not going to have to register in October. The College Board knows that. If not, they’re foolish.”

A second problem from Smith’s perspective suggests that the change seems like an economic strategy.  

“It’s stupid,” Smith said. “One line of thinking is that it’s a College Board money grab. You suck [students] in sooner, you lock in the money and you put hoops in the way to get their money back.”

At this point in time, though, it is difficult to tell what will happen.  

Rootham said that she “sees it as a benefit to the students,” which, at the end of the day, is what everyone hopes for.