I wanted to share our experience and some info we have learned about AP exams (Advanced Placement). Homeschoolers are eligible to write AP exams arranged by their local school division here in Saskatchewan. They are scored out of 5 (yep, just 5) and if a student gets a 4 or 5, they are eligible to get a university credit for that class. College Board, an American institution, oversees these exams, as well as many other standardized tests (SAT, SAT subject exams, Accuplacer).
Here are some links for the U of S and U of R:
We requested to our homeschool liaison that we wanted to write an AP exam, which is offered each May. She put us in touch with a teacher that organizes it at one of the Regina public schools. They didn’t seem to care much about the age/grade/experience of our son. We requested Computer Science A, filled out a couple forms, and that was it.
Why did we do this? I encouraged our son to give it a shot simply for the experience of preparing for and writing a very long exam which is something he would experience if he pursued post-secondary education. It would give him a taste of academics outside of home. Neither of us knew how it would go, but I told him we were doing this for the experience, not the mark. He would learn something either way.
Best case scenario? He does really well, learns how to prep for an exam, and gets a university credit (we even save the money we would have spent on him taking that course in university). Worst case scenario? He bombs it, doesn’t advise College Board where to send his marks (nobody needs to know the mark – they don’t send it anywhere unless you specifically request it), but learns what all is involved in preparing for what is essentially a final exam at a university, and can reflect on what he’d do differently next time (you can write it again, or not, it doesn’t matter. He could still just take the actual class in university he would have done anyway). We’ve always encouraged our children to take responsibility for their own learning and to be able to critically assess where they’re at, what they do know, what they don’t know, and how to get the information they need. Preparing for an exam that isn’t overseen by me gives them the opportunity to do that.
While it’s certainly not necessary to write an AP exam, it is one option that is out there. I don’t feel there’s much to lose in giving it a shot. He will likely attempt another one this year – either Psychology or Macro or Microeconomics. Why? They seem to be the easiest to self study for! How will we do it? We will buy a Barron’s AP book from Amazon and likely decide at the last minute, as is often the case! We can always back out if need be. No loss. And we can choose which marks we send where. To date, our school division doesn’t know the mark he got on the one he wrote in May, and I’m not sure we’ll bother to (even though he ended up scoring to get the university credit)!
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