AP registration deadline should not be earlier

February 14, 2017 — by Victor Liu

When college early acceptance letters came in December, a wave of senioritis began to hit the school. Phrases such as “I’m not studying for that test — I’m a second-semester senior now” started weaseling their way into conversations around campus. Contrary to popular belief, many second-semester seniors afflicted with senioritis have not grown lazier but rather more pragmatic.

The school administration, however, has limited the so-called “pragmatism” of second-semester seniors by moving the AP test signup deadline from mid-March to Feb. 17.

The rationale behind this change is to avoid another year of a mandatory AP Pre-ID “Bubble Fest,” a single tutorial period dedicated to filling out a majority of the AP registration forms, which saves time during the AP testing sessions in May.

Although it’s a well-intentioned initiative, earlier AP registration comes along with downsides that don’t necessarily balance out with the benefits.

Unlike underclassmen and juniors, many of whom take AP tests to earn college credit or to tack onto their college applications when senior year rolls around, second-semester seniors can be more particular in choosing which AP tests to take, considering that colleges do not accept all AP tests in exchange for credit.

While it’s true that most universities release their regular admissions decisions after the school’s traditional mid-March AP registration deadline, for seniors planning to attend schools that send out earlier decision emails such as Boston College and Northwestern University, knowing which tests to sign up and prepare for prevents weeks of aimless preparation and a waste of registration money. More importantly, the school’s original deadline allows these seniors to effectively study for AP tests that actually matter to them.

A later AP registration deadline doesn’t only benefit seniors, but it also helps both underclassmen and juniors.

As a general rule, AP students typically finish learning College Board's required topics in March, meaning that February AP signups would have to be completed before the actual class subjects are fully covered.

An earlier signup date means that AP students will have only covered about 70 percent of the classroom material when they are required to finalize their AP testing schedule, and for a college-levelled course, that remaining 30 percent accounts for a substantial portion of the class. Without knowing what this last 30 percent of material entails, students are not making a fully informed choice when they sign up for testing.

Of course, it’s not 100 percent necessary for students to learn that last 30 percent of material in order for them to sign up for an AP test. However, a later signup date ensures that students will be making better testing choices.

Another argument in favor of the new system is that if students decide that they no longer want to take a test before the office places their exam orders before March 11, they will still be fully refunded. But the two school weeks after the registration deadline and the refund deadline simply aren’t enough time.

Call students procrastinators, but most would rather spend a tutorial doing a Bubble Fest if that means they’ll have the ability to make a more educated decision for their future.

 

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