Students not enrolled in SHS AP Chinese course should be able to take AP test on campus

March 5, 2015 — by Kevin Chow and Caitlin Ju

“Must be in AP Chinese class at SHS.”

It’s right there on the AP exam registration form.

“Must be in AP Chinese class at SHS.”

It’s right there on the AP exam registration form.

This phrase, a scare to many, appears not only on Saratoga High’s registration form, but also on the forms of many of the neighboring schools, such as Monta Vista and Lynbrook High. The rules forbid students who do not take AP Chinese at the same school to register for the AP test there.

In an area like ours, with a high density of Chinese families, many students grow up learning Chinese at the same time as English. More often than not, they are easily qualified for the AP Chinese exam, but do not wish to spend multiple years in the actual class. These students should have the chance to take the AP Chinese exam, although they’re not enrolled in the course.  

Particularly strange is that the rule only applies to AP Chinese but not to any other AP languages or exams.

Guidance secretary Bonnie Sheikh said this rule was implemented for “technological reasons” as the AP Chinese exam requires specific use of computers and recording equipment, and the school could not accommodate students who are not in the actual classes as they do not have the required instruction to correctly use this equipment. If one student were unable to operate their device, then it would cause the entire room to have to stop.

Other schools, like Gunn and Hillsdale High, don’t place such restrictions on their students, going so far as to offering remaining spots to outside students at a future date. However, availability is very limited and the spots fill up quickly, sometimes in less than three days.

The lack of spots at the schools is not the only disadvantage students who must take AP Chinese at other schools face.  If spots at nearby schools are still available, taking the exam still costs at least $150 for Saratoga High school students.

Saratoga students prepared for the test but not enrolled in AP Chinese may find themselves lacking a spot and therefore forced to wait another year to fight for the remaining spots as far away as San Francisco.

Saratoga students who want to take the AP Chinese exam but do not take the course at Saratoga are merely unable to fit two languages into their current schedule and are being punished for it.

Then students wouldn’t have to brave the car ride all the way to San Francisco. And they could save that $60 for a different AP exam.

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