AP Spanish, Lost in the Chaos of College Board


Jack Hudson

With over 35 people taking AP Spanish this year, it is surprising that only five to eight students usually take the AP exam at the end of the school year. Although the course is labeled as an Advanced Placement class and adheres to the College Board requirements, can we really consider it an AP course if students do not take the required exam for them to receive college credit?

This lack of testing is simply unacceptable, and it brings to light the pressure students, especially at Grady, receive from Advanced Placement classes each school year.

AP Spanish is taught with the same rigor as any other Advanced Placement course. It requires practice, repetition and work outside of the classroom to master the material. Unlike the past years of Spanish I through IV, AP Spanish emphasizes the speaking and verbal understanding of the language.

During class, teachers speak entirely in Spanish. Students are required to respond and converse with their professors in Spanish, and they are expected to carry on discussions with their classmates only in Spanish. Class rigor challenges students by making them quickly grasp the content and respond with an answer that makes sense. The rhetorical aspect of the class is added onto the vocabulary, subject-verb agreement and verb conjugation that students learn during other class periods.

IMG_3499All of this sounds overwhelming at first, and it certainly does not entice students to add on another $90 AP exam. However, recently the Spanish exam has changed into a test that students do not have to be fluent in the language to get a score of five. Instead, students must be able to pick out key details from the passages and apply that information to the questions on the test.

According to Enoch Gill, AP Spanish teacher, out of the students who took the newly-annotated exam, all of them passed with a three or higher. This change has not altered any of the negative opinions of the test, and people continue to opt-out of taking it. This leads me to believe that the problem is not with the course itself but with the overall AP system.

“Due to the money the students or to the time, the class requires throughout the year students may not sign up. I am sure if you are taking five or six AP classes you are studying nightly and doing a lot of work,” Gill said.

There is a lot of pressure placed on students to take the maximum number  of AP courses they can fit into their schedules without killing themselves due to sleep deprivation. More often than not, they choose AP core classes so that they can fill their graduation requirements while still getting AP credit.

“Most students that are taking AP Spanish are also taking other AP classes,” Liliana Ortegon, a Spanish teacher, said. “They put more time into those classes compared to Spanish since this is an elective course. Students like to have that AP name on their transcript, and they will not take a Spanish five, which would have the same course material, if they could have that AP written across the page.”

This should simply not be the case. If you are taking an AP course, then the same amount of effort should be used for all classes. The only way to solve this issue is to cut down on the number of AP courses students take and give more attention to the content of each.

“Students tend to focus on their core classes, which they should, and if they have time, they put AP Spanish in their schedule,” Gill said. “They all have so many other AP classes that they are taking, that a lot of times they do not put this in their schedule, and when they do it is the fifth or sixth one they are taking.”

To attract more students to these classes, the workload should be lightened. That means not taking five or six AP courses, and giving individual attention to each course you take. This will raise the performances on the exams, get more students to take these exams, and raise the averages in those classes.

Both Ortegon and Gill agreed that not taking the AP course exam at the end of the year is just a waste.


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