AP, IB Credit Changes Poorly Justified

As prospective Emory students prepare for end-of-year Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams, the Class of 2022 must take into account that Emory will now accept only 12 pre-matriculation test credits instead of 24 and has cut the list of exams it will grant credit for, as the Wheel reported last week.

While that change may boost the perceived rigor and prestige of an Emory degree, it does so with trade-offs that disadvantage the individual needs of students without options for flexibility. By lowering the test credit cap, Emory wastes some some students’ time and money and disadvantages students who otherwise could have graduated an extra semester early and may now face financial or other burdens as a result.

As AP and IB test registration and college enrollment deadlines approach, Emory should inform potential incoming students that the University’s test credit policy has changed.

In support of the new policy, Emory has cited stricter credit caps used by other elite schools, as well as a need to match Oxford College’s 12-credit cap. Neither of these justify such an extreme change

Highly-motivated high school students who work hard to position themselves ahead of their peers academically should not be required to relearn college-level content they have already mastered. Before the change, Emory’s list of accepted AP and IB scores was fairly selective, with no AP scores below a four or IB scores below a 5 being valid for credit.

Frank Lechner, chair of the Curriculum Assessment and Educational Policy Committee and sociology professor, wrote that the policy change put Emory College in line with Oxford College, which already had a 12-credit cap. But Emory should not be beholden to Oxford’s policy, and perhaps it’s time for Oxford to reevaluate its own seemingly-arbitrary credit cap.

A 2016 Progressive Policy assessment of the top 153 U.S. colleges and universities found that 34 percent did not restrict the total number of AP test credits accepted, including Yale University (Conn.), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, Berkeley and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While these schools limit which tests and scores are accepted, they do not arbitrarily restrict the total number of test credits the way Emory does.

Academic departments, whose faculty have the expertise to evaluate the content and rigor of AP and IB exams, should have the authority to determine which exams are valid for non-major credit or as substitutes for major prerequisites from year to year.

For instance, Art History Department Director of Undergraduate Studies Linda Merrill provided the Wheel with a clear, concise justification for changes made within the department. Such invaluable information should be obtained from all departments in future.

Emory should mirror schools like Cornell University (N.Y.) and the University of Rochester which have no credit cap but instead are more selective in which tests are valid for university credit. If the University is worried about the quality of the education received by students who claim AP or IB credit, slashing the credit cap in half is not the answer.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak,  Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Isabeth Mendoza, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling.