There’s no question that it has been another tough year. And the messages we’re sharing with our students are more important than ever.

Therefore, in advance of this year’s AP Exam administration, we’ll follow the lead of principals and assistant principals and make it our mission to deliver messages that motivate thoughtfully. Too much emphasis on performance—on just the AP Exam score—falls short of celebrating a student’s participation and growth in an AP course throughout the year—not to mention the hard work and effort of the student and their AP teacher.

The truth is that the benefits of AP courses extend beyond college credit, advanced placement, or both. Those benefits extend to all students, no matter their exam scores. Recently released analyses tell us what AP teachers have known all along. Students persisting through challenging coursework and showing up to do their best on exam day is what the AP experience is all about. It reinforces an important life lesson on keeping commitments, a lesson that helps guarantee student success in future endeavors.

And the data show that students are learning that lesson. AP students who earn scores of 1 and 2 have significantly stronger college outcomes than college students who didn’t take an AP course and exam. For instance,

  1. They’re more likely to enroll in a four-year college. AP students, including those with average scores of 1 or 2, are more likely to enroll in a four-year college, compared to academically similar students who didn’t take AP in high school.
  2. They perform as well or better in introductory college courses. Students who earn AP scores of 2 are well prepared to succeed in introductory college coursework. Compared to academically similar college peers who didn’t take the AP course, AP students who earn scores of 2 perform as well or better when they take those introductory college courses.
  3. They go on to score higher on subsequent AP Exams. Many students who first score a 1 or 2 on an AP Exam will take further AP courses and score higher.

No matter their score, taking an AP course and exam always benefits students. So, focusing on course follow through should be the goal this spring.

Minh-Ha Hoang, director of admissions and enrollment at the University of San Diego, could not have said it better: “AP students are intellectually curious, disciplined, and incredibly resilient. They’re the type of people who will follow through on things they’ve started.”

As part of our commitment to help AP teachers and students finish the year strong, we’re bringing back free exam practice with AP Daily: Live Review Sessions April 18−28. Both teachers and students can access AP Daily videos on-demand in AP Classroom, any time, on any device.

We hope that these tools, along with the knowledge that there’s real benefit to seeing the course through to exam day, give AP students and their teachers an extra boost of confidence this spring.

And in the spirit of sharing messages that motivate thoughtfully, we’ll leave you with this one to share with your students. It’s from John Barnhill, associate vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University:

“Your AP class is similar to the courses you’ll experience at college. And like a college course, it’s important to finish strongly by taking your AP Exam and seeing the class through to the end. Regardless of your exam score, the hard work you put in all year will benefit you in college and beyond.”

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