Dear College Board

Social Media Manager Lina Graf discloses the truth about AP classes to the College Board.

Jules+Pung+and+Torin+Culp+earnestly+studying+for+AP+Exams.

Lina Graf

Jules Pung and Torin Culp earnestly studying for AP Exams.

Lina Graf, Social Media Manager

Dear College Board,

Just to remind you: we became acquaintances in the eighth grade, friends in ninth and tenth, foes in eleventh, and I cut off our relationship in twelfth (no more SAT!) because we became too toxic for each other. No offense or anything. I should have noticed the red flags waving left and right, but I didn’t.

You are an organization that’s been around since 1899, and you walk around with your nose in the air, offering students elevated courses to hone their skills in Calculus or Physics. But, when you really take the time to look into it, what really is the point of taking AP classes? Is assessing how accurately I can answer a multiple choice question in under 50 seconds truly a thorough examination of my future performance in college?

Let’s be honest–not many go into an AP course for the sheer pleasure of learning. In the end, it’s all about buffing up the transcript.

Did I struggle through AP English Language and Composition and AP Literature, for example, because of my incredible fondness and appreciation for reading passages and answering fifty-five multiple choice questions on those passages? Not particularly. I took these classes so I’d have a better chance to get into the college of my dreams instead of taking a class I’d love, like Mythology.

And honestly, I know you mean well because you give students the opportunity of a more advanced education, which I respect. But the truth of the matter is that if colleges didn’t want to see a “rigorous schedule” chock full of advanced placement courses, I’d take a class with more freedom for creativity and projects rather than writing a specific type of essay on a passage from the 1700s.

I definitely see the benefit of the classes (learning how to write proper essays, how the French Revolution went down, or how to say more than ‘hola’ in Spanish). But quite frankly, when I look back at what I’ve truly learned from each AP that I’ve taken, I notice it’s really about how to eliminate every answer choice until I choose the one that’s mostly accurate.

Also, it should be noted that an important part of getting students ready for college is teaching them how to conduct proper research. Yet, AP classes (which are modeled after a college curriculum, as a reminder), overlook this skill altogether. Instead, you, College Board, focus on timed writing and multiple choice questions–none of which I’ll be needing in the workforce.

The tears and sweat that went into my studying for the SAT just to find out that the schools I applied to are test-optional this year. ”

— Lina Graf

Moral of the story, College Board, is that I love History and English, but because it’s now a “strong suggestion” (read: rule) that one ought to take AP classes just to have a better chance of getting into a more selective school (not to mention the wonderfully amazing GPA boost), I simply can’t take all regular classes even though I know I’d learn more in them because of their free, open-ended, and creative structures.

Typical English classes focus on fostering in-depth discussions, establishing strong arguments, or telling unique stories. Filling in multiple choice bubbles and speed-reading passages isn’t exactly inspiring or stimulating in the same way.

Now, in regard to your infamous SAT: I’ve struggled to study for your standardized test because I never really understood any of the questions. The sections, math and reading, don’t provide any leeway for a student to express their creativity, which makes sense for a standardized test.

However, you ask the questions in a very ambiguous manner instead of focusing on drawing out a student’s true ability and skill in what they’ve learned at school.

So, dear College Board, I have survived three years’ worth of your classes and endured your three-hour examinations just to receive a score. Not to mention, the tears and sweat that went into my studying for the SAT just to find out that the schools I applied to are test-optional this year.

With love,
Lina

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