Earning 5’s on AP exams should equal A’s


Erin Kim

Earning a perfect score of 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) exam should boost your grade to an immediate A, but not every AP class has this option.

As the end of the school year approaches, Cal High students have wrapped up their Advanced Placement (AP) exams.
These exams, administered by the College Board, offer students the opportunity to earn college credit and demonstrate their mastery of a subject.
A passing score on the AP exam is generally considered a 3, and students who earn the highest score of 5 demonstrate mastery in their course.
In many AP classes, students who achieve a 5 on their AP exam are rewarded with a potential boost to an A for their second semester grade.
Some schools have policies that grant automatic grade enhancements for students who score well on AP exams.
Considering that AP courses have a more rigorous curriculum, college-level tests, and a very challenging workload, requiring all AP teachers to boost first or second semester grades to an A for students who earn a 5 is without a doubt an appropriate reward for students.
Unfortunately, not every AP class at Cal includes this incentive. Some classes, including AP United States History and AP Biology, do not offer this grade boost after a successful score of a 5 on the AP exam.
This needs to change.
A score of 5 demonstrates a student’s mastery of the subject matter. Boosting grades based on students’ scores isn’t meant to be a way of getting an easy A, but rather a testament to how students earned a spot in being among those around the country who mastered the course.
The AP teachers that boost grades based on their AP scores of 5 clearly do this to reward students for demonstrating mastery of the curriculum.
It can be argued that raising students’ grades based on their AP test scores is financially unfair because of the costs for AP exams. A single exam costs $129.23. For students taking multiple AP classes and hoping to take the exams, the cost gets expensive. If students aren’t able to pay for the tests, they don’t have the same chance of receiving a grade boost.
Luckily, many states offer financial aid for those who are not able to afford the costs of AP exams. Title IV, Part A Grant Program (Every Student Succeeds Act), was implemented for the 2022-23 school year to help students pay for these tests.
Congress has allocated $1.28 billion for the program in the federal budget for the current fiscal school year, and it includes support for AP related activities. Title IV, Part A can be used by states and districts to fund part or all costs of AP exam fees for low-income students.
This significantly improves the opportunity to take an AP exam accessible for anyone.
Some could make the argument that students’ grades already increase from AP classes being weighted because the grades are on a 5-point scale, rather than the cumulative 4-point scale. And because of this, there is no real need for an AP exam to impact the general course grade in any way.
Taking a closer look at this grading scale, students realize that if they earn a B in an AP class, what would generally be considered a 3.0 becomes a 4.0 because of the grade inflation.
But regardless of AP classes being weighted, there isn’t any reason to prevent teachers from boosting students’ grades for earning a 5 on AP exams. AP classes generally require far more work compared to standard classes students take, which is why they are weighted in the first place.
Students who earn a 5 on their AP exam have worked hard to get their scores, and that needs to be reflected in their grades. All students must be given the option to boost any AP class grade to an A if they earn a score of 5.