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AP vs SAT Subject Tests: A Comparison

All across the globe at any given second, high school students are sitting hunched over textbooks with pen and highlighter in hand. It is a routine that Montgomery County students are all too familiar with. In addition to the almost daily quizzes and tests that are part of class curriculum, there is the added load of semester exams, SAT, AP, IB, and more. Chances are, most students probably spend much more time studying than what should be considered appropriate.

Yet, students grow increasingly ambitious by year, shown through skyrocketing numbers of students taking the college-level exams each year. According to a research study by the College Board, not only are the number of tests being taken every year trending upward, but the number of high schools offering them and colleges accepting them for credit are as well.

Thus, the question of whether other tests that similarly measure proficiency in a certain subject are really necessary–namely, the SAT subject tests (SAT II). Many of the SAT II exams share subjects with AP exams, with AP exams being just as rigorous or even more so in many cases.

“SAT subject tests are redundant and unnecessary because APs cover the same material,” said Richard Montgomery sophomore Charlotte Hirsch. “AP tests alone require a stressful amount of studying, and often an entire course of hard work. Also, colleges don’t usually require SAT subject tests.”

In many cases, AP tests come into use when a student with a passing score on an AP exam is given credit for the class and exempted from retaking it in college. Many high school students prefer to sit for these to relieve the potential class burden that may come in the future.

On the other hand, for schools that do require SAT II scores to apply, a student’s performance on the test could affect their admission decision, even though it would not change their courses while in college. Thus, they tend to assess students on more basic skills and memorization-type questions than the AP, just to see if a student is proficient in the subject on a high school level.

Blair senior Angela Park stressed the difference between the two tests, advocating for continuing to offer both options. “APs are for getting credit and are a lot more in-depth. SAT subject tests show if you understand basic material, and it’s a way of showing you know your stuff without having to pay as much as an AP and spend as much time studying,” she said.

Despite covering the same material, the two tests do so in rather different ways. Both the AP and the SAT II have been gaining popularity with each passing year. However, more and more people have begun to support the elimination of the SAT II to relieve some testing burdens on students, as well as lower the cost of pursuing higher education. The controversy continues, and only the future may tell what will become of SAT subject tests.

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Irene Park of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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