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BakersDozen

Turns out AP/CLEP doesn't matter

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I checked with my dd, and you're right. She said it as a fact, but what you say makes far more sense, so I asked her where she learned her information about SAT scores.

 

It's possible that there might have been a 20 percent spread on an exam. But I've not seen an indication that there was a straight curve. Could you elaborate? I found a score distribution for the 2011 exams. There are some where less than 10% received a 5 and some where almost 50% earned a 5. Physics C, studio art and foreign languages had high percentages of students earning 3-5. Most of the other exams look to be in the 45-68% range. Given the number of schools where a high percentage of college bound students take AP as the default level, even if they aren't yet ready for college level material, that feels about right to me. Here is the score distribution for 2012. Looks similar, although German scores dropped significantly (I think this was the first year of the revised German exam). This report is intriguing, though I think you have to consider what it reflects. It lists the top colleges receiving AP score reports. May not indicate how many AP exams the average successful applicant has. But it might shed light on how many exams are taken by the average person who is serious enough about the school to be sending them score reports. Not sure if it reflects total scores reported to each school or reports of new scores for each year. And class size matters. University of Texas is the top school for reports, but that reflects an average lower than three scores per student

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So, do you mean that he started doing CC classes in 11th grade, and then as a senior he did 20 credits worth of math and science at the CC? Wow that seems like a lot in one year. Or do you mean all together he had 20 math and science CC credits when he graduated high school?

 

How do you feel like that limited his college options? because that was honestly what I was thinking DS would do, and I thought that was going to actually open up his options, that he would have all this college level work to show, not about getting credit for it, but to show as his high school work.

 

Please expose my skewed thinking! :)

 

Answering this late, so people already probably have answered your question, but just in case this helps:

 

The really really short answer is: Read Gwen's post. Sometime way back when she told me the same thing, probably when I was first planning high school and was ranting about how jumping through the standard college admissions hoops for my area was going to severly limit my children's education. Her advice matched the conclusion I was coming to myself.

 

The short answer is that we didn't do both AP and CC because I was trying to take full advantage of the flexibility that homeschooling offers for as long into high school as possible, and because I was trying to keep things simple and focus only on what was best for my child's high school education.

 

The long answer: Part of "best education for my child" was being able to go to college. I hadn't been giving grades and didn't want to start doing so, so I needed some way of verifying academic ability in most subject areas, but I didn't want that to be high stakes testing. The first child doesn't test well on many standardized tests and generally learned better out of the classroom, and the second one tests well enough but does nicely on his own when given more freedom to focus on the aspects of a subject that intrigue him. In both cases, going the AP/SAT2 route was going to replace a way they learned well with a way they learned less well, which seemed like a stupid idea. The older they became, the more they learned left to their own devices. However, they did eventually need to make the switch to standard classroom/textbook learning or they wouldn't survive college. (I mostly focused on skills to survive college rather than what would get them in. It seemed like getting in was far easier than staying in.) Using community college classes, I could build a ramp from easy classes to harder classes. AP classes come in one flavour - hard. They all require good study/textbook skills. We did work on this, but we also did a lot of other things, too, and my children aren't naturally academic or brilliant. They are just brightish. (And rather quirky.) AP classes would have required that my children do some regular classes first. The community college route, despite its disadvantages (see my previous posts), allowed us to start this process at the last possible moment. There is the other problem that as a family, we are sieve-brained. It takes an enormous amount of effort for us to memorize anything (well, except for some odd things like melodies) and the community college format requires less memorizing.

 

This is a very individual decision. I (accidentally) found ways to challenge my children that did not involve AP classes and I structured out homeschool around those ways. AP classes would have "ruined" that. Other people use AP classes to challenge their children and they have been homeschooling in such a way that their children can handle the traditional format of the classes and the high stakes test and memorize easily enough that they aren't disadvantaged by the format.

There is absolutely no reason why you can't do a mix of whatever you want. I aimed at having some outside assessment of English, math, science, and in the case of my youngest, French (he took the DELF test). They had several for each, actually. Knowing that some community colleges don't offer math past basic algebra, I wasn't sure how universities would view cc classes. I also knew that some universities required SAT2 exams from homeschoolers. I think universities like AP tests because it is the same test no matter where you live, unlike community college classes, which vary widely. Ditto SAT2s. I also knew students who were getting into the colleges my children were interested in. They ALL had AP classes. Hence all my nervousness at choosing not to have either.

 

So - that is probably way more than you really wanted to know about why I chose not to have my children take AP tests lol. Hopefully something in all that was helpful. : )

 

 

Nan

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Thank you all for sharing. I really appreciate you sharing your stories! I love reading about your kids. I just want to add, I am definitely doing all of the above, focusing on my child and following his passions, and not just trying to chart a course to get into X or Y college. That really is the reason we homeschool in the first place. The reason I am asking all these questions is because I don't want him to have to know where he wants to go to school or what he wants to major in at this exact moment, I just want to be able to keep his options open. We are at a juncture where we are about to begin the high school years, and he may keep homeschooling, or he might consider entering public high school. And I feel like if we continue to homeschool, I just want to have all this info up front so that we can plan accordingly, so that we aren't saying, "Oh, well I wish we had known that." Which in all likelihood I am sure there will be things about which we are saying that anyway, whether he keeps homeschooling or goes to public school. But I am a researcher and I feel like it is my job to look at all of these options and be able to help him navigate the path. I don't want him to resent homeschooling later because he didn't get to do this or that. Hope that makes sense! Thanks all!

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But I am a researcher and I feel like it is my job to look at all of these options and be able to help him navigate the path. I don't want him to resent homeschooling later because he didn't get to do this or that. Hope that makes sense! Thanks all!

 

A great piece of advice I received when my oldest was entering high school was to look at the testing requirements for the top-tier schools and plan a testing schedule. Then, if my kids decided to apply to any of these schools, they would have met all of the testing requirements.

 

I was told to have my kids take either the ACT or SAT, along with three SAT II's. The SAT II's should be taken as soon as the student has finished his last course in that area of study. My oldest took his SAT II's after he completed AP Chemistry, AP Physics B and pre-calc when the material was still fresh in his mind.

 

My oldest two will be heading for STEM majors. Some colleges request that STEM majors submit a Math Subject Test and a Science Subject Test. Some colleges specify the Math II Subject Test, while other colleges will accept either Math I or Math II.

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A great piece of advice I received when my oldest was entering high school was to look at the testing requirements for the top-tier schools and plan a testing schedule. Then, if my kids decided to apply to any of these schools, they would have met all of the testing requirements.

 

I was told to have my kids take either the ACT or SAT, along with three SAT II's. The SAT II's should be taken as soon as the student has finished his last course in that area of study. My oldest took his SAT II's after he completed AP Chemistry, AP Physics B and pre-calc when the material was still fresh in his mind.

 

My oldest two will be heading for STEM majors. Some colleges request that STEM majors submit a Math Subject Test and a Science Subject Test. Some colleges specify the Math II Subject Test, while other colleges will accept either Math I or Math II.

 

I received similar advice and was grateful for it. It probably didn't come across in my other posts, but we did try to keep our sons' options as open as possible for as long as possible. We did intend to have youngest do math and science SAT2s. We knew he wouldn't do fantastically well with the science ones because he didn't study the typical high school material (more squirrels, less coral lol), but it would have allowed colleges like BU to check that box. Not that my son was interested in BU - I just give it as an example of a college that wants SAT2s and is big enough that they might not have bothered to look at my son's application if it were missing things. In the end, he didn't have to take them because when he contacted his first choice college, they said not to take them for their sake. They had his application in hand when they said this, so he took them at their word, assuming that his cc classes were sufficient. The websites of his other colleges all said he didn't need them; it was a question of whether he would be more competative with them. I did keep his options open where they were concerned. It would have involved a bit of test prep to fill in the gaps which would have put a strain on the schedule, but it could have been done.

 

It was this question of whether he would be more competative with them that I found so upsetting and stressful towards the end. It was the balance between keeping options open and keeping the homeschooling advantage of flexibility and customization that upset me earlier in the high school process. Every once in a while I would find myself thinking, "I could give my children a really interesting education if I didn't have to prepare them for college." Then I would reassess what we were doing. Or I would happen across something academic that my children were unable to do (I would catch a glimpse of a college science text book or something) and I would reassess and pull us in the other direction. No wonder my hair is grey.

 

Nan

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I received similar advice and was grateful for it. It probably didn't come across in my other posts, but we did try to keep our sons' options as open as possible for as long as possible.

I hope that my post did not come across as judgmental and suggesting that those who don't take SAT II's are not keeping all of their options open.

 

I had never heard of the SAT II's prior to homeschooling. I am glad they were put on my radar early so that my son was able to take the SAT II's right after he completed the corresponding course. It would have been a pain for me (and a bigger pain to him) to discover that he needed them later in his high school career when he would have had to take the time to review old material.

 

As it was, the SAT II's were relatively painless since he was studying similar material for the AP exams (for science) anyway.

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I hope that my post did not come across as judgmental and suggesting that those who don't take SAT II's are not keeping all of their options open.

 

I had never heard of the SAT II's prior to homeschooling. I am glad they were put on my radar early so that my son was able to take the SAT II's right after he completed the corresponding course. It would have been a pain for me (and a bigger pain to him) to discover that he needed them later in his high school career when he would have had to take the time to review old material.

 

As it was, the SAT II's were relatively painless since he was studying similar material for the AP exams (for science) anyway.

 

Certainly not to me. I guess my post did sound rather defensive, but it wasn't at all meant to be. I meant it to back up your very good advice by pointing out that although my sons didn't take the SAT2's, we had planned to do so if need be. I agree with your advice. SAT2s are a fairly easy way to get outside assessment of learning and they are HIGH SCHOOL level, unlike AP tests, which are meant to be COLLEGE LEVEL. I took them in high school (they were called achievement tests then) so I took them for granted as an option but it was a good idea to mention them in this thread because you are right about it being a pain to discover them at the last minute, since you can't take SAT1s and SAT2s on the same test date and you don't want to have to take bio a few years after you have finished the class.

 

: )

Nancy, hoping all this advice isn't overwhelming anyone...

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Nan, we never did any SAT IIs either. Few kids at my high school do any, so they weren't on my radar at all for oldest. By the time middle came around and was thinking of trying upper level schools, we thought about them, but they didn't work out easily. He contacted schools he was interested in and only one was set in stone about them (Emory - for homeschoolers only as they aren't required from ps applicants). He decided (by himself) that it was far easier to cut Emory from the list than to prepare for 2 SAT IIs just for that one school. ALL other schools told him he was ok without them since he had AP and DE to offer as well as high ACT scores (for grade substantiation, and, in some cases ACT was ok without SAT IIs, SAT would have needed some).

 

Youngest isn't doing any either. His school choices don't need any (same as oldest).

 

We all have to make our choices. In hindsight, I still don't mind skipping SAT IIs (loved having less hassle with testing), but they definitely can be a good grade substantiator for those who choose to (or need to) do them.

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This is so stressful. The responsibility for knowing everything available and choosing one thing over another is about to do me in. :(

 

 

:iagree: I couldn't agree more.

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