Dartmouth College ends Advanced Placement credit

Marion Renault


Future Dartmouth students hoping to trade in their high AP scores for class credit are out of luck. After a faculty vote, the Ivy League school recently announced they will no longer be accepting AP credit, starting with the class of 2018.

Starting in the fall of 2014, Dartmouth will only use the AP scores for placement into appropriate college courses.

The decision came after speculation that the AP tests and courses aren't as rigorous as Dartmouth classes.

"The concern that we have is that increasingly, AP has been seen as equivalent to a college-level course, and it really isn't, in our opinion," Hakan Tell, chairman of the college's Committee on Instruction, told the Associated Press.

An experiment by the school’s psychology department also convinced its faculty to change the AP policy. After giving students who scored a 5 on the AP test a condensed version of the Dartmouth course’s final exam, 90 percent failed. Then in the introductory course, high scoring AP students performed no better than other students.

In response, the College Board said it was suspicious of the experiment's results.

“It’s very difficult to believe that 90 percent of students with a 5 on their A.P. would flunk a test on an introductory course,” said Trevor Packer, the College Board official in charge of the A.P. program told the New York Times. “We have research, including Dartmouth students who got a 5 on their psychology A.P., showing that they did better than students without that A.P.”

The AP program has come under fire in recent years with accusations of its intention and effects. Some accuse it of being a shortcut for students. Others say the AP high school classes are little more than test prep for the exams.

Former Boston college professor John Tierny even went so far as to call the program a “scam.”  

Students, including former Dartmouth graduates, are upset about the decision. Not allowing students to use credit to pass out of classes, they said, could cost them thousands of dollars of tuition.

And with the rising cost of tuition, room, board and fees – Dartmouth’s amounting to $58,000 a year –saving money has never been more important to college students.

For now, University of Minnesota students are safe from a similar policy switch. All Big 10 schools award some kind of credit for high AP scores, although the policy varies at each individual school. The U generally accepts a minimum score of three for nearly all AP subjects.