Fort Thomas Highlands High School student Luciey Garland has taken three advanced placement exams without receiving a qualifying score of 3 or higher. But that hasn’t deterred the senior from taking more classes this year.
She wrote about her AP experiences for her college essay, detailing how she received a 1 on her sophomore AP world history exam and a 2 on both her AP U.S. history and AP language exams as a junior.
“I wrote about the failure with those and what I got out of it, which brought me to take another two AP classes (biology and literature and composition) my senior year,” Garland said.
Though she didn’t receive college credit for her efforts, advocates of AP courses would point out that not receiving a qualifying score of 3 isn’t a failure.
Joanne Lang of AdvanceKentucky, an organization that works with districts seeking to improve their AP programs, said data shows students who take AP classes do better on ACT exams, earn a higher GPA in their first year of college and are more likely to graduate in four years than students who don’t take AP classes.
“Even if you get a 2 and you seriously struggled with the studying and the work and sat for the exam, you do better than if you never even tried for AP,” Lang said. “Regardless of what score they get, there’s going to be greater benefit gained by that student.”
Megan Boimann-Hennies, an AP history teacher at Highlands High School, said the school’s policy is, if a student is on the fence then “make the stretch.”
“Because a 1 on the AP exam is still much better college preparation than not taking an AP exam,” Boimann-Hennies said. Taking just one course, even without earning a qualifying score will “expose you to college level reading and writing, participation and organization; just knowing how to manage your time,” she added.
It also helps boost a student’s academic confidence, Boimann-Hennies said.
Garland said when she first took an AP class she thought, “What did I get myself into?” But she grew to like it and said “I’m glad that I stuck to it because it was well worth it.”
She said her self-discipline has increased because she knows there are consequences if she doesn’t do the readings and other coursework. And, she noted, the classes have prepared her “100 percent” for college.
“To me, taking an AP class, successful is when you fail and you do it over again until you get it right or until you learn what you did wrong. That’s what I think success is,” Garland said. “So will I be ready for my first day of college? Probably not. I don’t think anyone will be. But what I will be ready to do in college is to fail and to work harder until I get it right.”