Do AP credits have a large value at USAFA?

Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
53
Hello,

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I have not yet been accepted to USAFA. This is just a question that might affect me once I begin to attend.

I am currently a senior, and the time to sign up for AP exams is approaching quickly. Sooner or later, I will have to make a choice whether to take the AP Biology exam or not. To help me make my decision, I researched online and found out that a score of 4 or 5 on that exam validates the Bio 315 course (I'm assuming it is a semester-long course).

Now here's the problem: AP exams are by no means cheap. I believe they are $95 each, and they will definitely make a dent in my wallet, should I decide to take them. I am just not sure if the $95 is worth the validation of one bio course at USAFA.

I also have heard that every cadet at BCT takes an "entrance" exam that gauges his or her academic level in order to decide the course levels of his or her first year classes. Here's my thinking: won't doing well on this "entrance" exam be analogous to obtaining a score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam?

I'm just so confused and would greatly appreciate it if someone may share his or her insight.

Thank you!
 

xcmum

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2016
Messages
97
I could be wrong and I hope others with much more experience and wisdom will chime in, but I think I remember my DS, who is also applying to USAFA class of 2021, being told that AP exam results are not 'transferable' or used to be be able to skip the class. He did get the same info as you regarding the 'entrance' test during BCT. Namely, that this test might allow you to be placed in higher level classes if you score high enough so in that sense taking and doing well in the AP classes could be very advantageous for you-I just don't think the AP EXAM results help you much, if at all, at USAFA or any of the SA's. That being said, I say if you can afford it, take the AP exam. That way, if for some reason, you don't get an appointment to USAFA, you could still use the exam results at your plan B or C schools and it could save you some big money. This is what we had our DS do.
 

Daretodream

5-Year Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
246
The AP credits do not help you at USAFA. During BCT you will test to try and validate certain classes. Validating classes does not get you credit, but allows you to start at a higher level for more flexibility for a minor as you progress through your four years.

The average for Cadets in the Class of 2020 was about 2 classes validated. My DS took 16 AP/IB classes in high school and made a 4 or 5 on all exams except French and Spanish where he made 3s. He validated 7 classes last year. It allowed him to start in the second Calculus and second Chemistry class. There are also Honors classes where the AP may play a part.

So to answer your question, I think how you score on the AP exams will give you some idea of how you will fare on the validation exams. I can also tell you each class is full of students who finished at the top of their class in high school. There are students who never struggled with a grade. You will struggle at times at USAFA. My DS completed his first semester last month and made just over a 3.0 which was good enough for the Dean's List. He was extremely proud of his semester. You need to go there with a mindset to do your best but understand that might mean all A's.
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
53
The AP credits do not help you at USAFA. During BCT you will test to try and validate certain classes. Validating classes does not get you credit, but allows you to start at a higher level for more flexibility for a minor as you progress through your four years.

The average for Cadets in the Class of 2020 was about 2 classes validated. My DS took 16 AP/IB classes in high school and made a 4 or 5 on all exams except French and Spanish where he made 3s. He validated 7 classes last year. It allowed him to start in the second Calculus and second Chemistry class. There are also Honors classes where the AP may play a part.

So to answer your question, I think how you score on the AP exams will give you some idea of how you will fare on the validation exams. I can also tell you each class is full of students who finished at the top of their class in high school. There are students who never struggled with a grade. You will struggle at times at USAFA. My DS completed his first semester last month and made just over a 3.0 which was good enough for the Dean's List. He was extremely proud of his semester. You need to go there with a mindset to do your best but understand that might mean all A's.

Thank you very much for the reply! I would like to confirm a part of your answer: your DS was able to validate 7 classes because of his good performance on the "validation" exams, correct?
 

USMA 1994

5-Year Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
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1,276
The actual AP test score have little impact on what happens at the academy. The test during BCT allow you to validate some classes and start in higher level classes but I will give you a different perspective. The four years is a marathon experience not a sprint. While validating courses may help your course load during later years, I would caution about testing out of everything. There is great value in taking the same classes as all your classmates and taking the journey together. You will build relationships and learn to work as a team. Plebe year is hard enough, retaking Calculus, English, History or Chemistry is not the end of the world and taking classes where you are familiar with the material may reduce some of the stress of your first year. They may also help increase your GPA which allows you more options when branch night comes around. These classes also provide the foundation for the more advanced classes you will need for your major and an AP class in high school is not the same.
 

Daretodream

5-Year Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2014
Messages
246
You can only validate based on your exams given at USAFA. Based on our parents blog, most Cadets struggle in Chemistry, Calculus, Computer Science or the foreign language. My DS had Chemistry II and Calculus II in the fall. He took French and Spanish in high school, but chose Japanese at USAFA. He made the Dean's List but his lowest grades were in Chemistry and Calculus. He enjoyed the semester.

He told me over the break that he thought the Academy did a nice job of setting you up for success and not letting you get too far ahead. There have been plenty go before you and they know what to do. Just go and do your best and take the test and accept the results.
 
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