Academics / Community

Dana Hall Changes AP Exam Policy

This year, Dana Hall has made two changes to its Advanced Placement (AP) Exam policy. First, Seniors are no longer required to take the AP Exams in May. Second, students used to be able to take any AP exams, even if Dana Hall doesn’t offer the AP course. Due to the policy change, Dana Hall is now only offering AP exams for the courses offered in school.

Seniors can opt out of the AP exam this year, says Amy Kumpel, Director of the Upper School. “By the time AP exams roll around in May, seniors have their plans locked down, they know whether they’re taking a gap year or whether they’re going to college, they’ve committed somewhere, they’re ready to go. And at that point, it’s not like they need it for their college application process anymore, things like that, we really felt that it could be important to allow seniors to make the choice. We are still really hoping that seniors are opting-in. Right? Seniors are choosing to take these challenging courses with really interesting course material you know. Their plans are set, they don’t really need those AP scores anymore.”

Dana Hall now only offers exams for the 16 AP courses taught in Dana Hall. Cara Hanig, Director of College Counseling, and Ms. Kumpel sent an email on September 12, 2022, announcing Dana Hall’s AP Exam policy change, “Starting in the 2022-23 school year, we will no longer offer AP exams to students studying independently for courses that are not offered at Dana Hall.”

According to Ms. Kumpel, “Students were spending all their time trying to study for these courses to the detriment of their actual classes here at Dana Hall.” 

Before this change, many Dana Hall students were self-studying for AP exams and signing up with Dana Hall to take the exam in May. In the 2021-2022 school year, 69 self-study exams were signed up for but one-third of the exams were canceled by students.

The email included a third reason. Colleges value students’ performance in school and community engagements more than AP scores. Ms. Hanig clarifies, “greater importances is being attributed to AP exams by students and families than by colleges.”

“So this policy was really put in place to make sure that students keep their priority, quite frankly, on the things that’s most important, which is their work at Dana Hall, but also to remind them that there’s a balance between sleep and mental wellness and Dana Hall work and when you throw in three extra AP exams, the Dana Hall course load is not compatible with self-studying for three extra exams,” says Ms. Hanig.

However, this policy does not limit students to only taking the AP exams of courses they are enrolled in. For example, a student will still be allowed to take the AP Language and Composition exam even if they are not enrolled in the AP Comp class.

Students are also allowed to take the unoffered exams in outside test centers. If a student would like to take the AP Microeconomics exam–no longer offered in Dana this year–they can register with an outside test center that offers this exam.

Ms. Kumpel adds, “Just because we don’t offer an AP Psych exam anymore, doesn’t mean you can’t read about psychology for fun on your own. And, as a big reminder, Dana Hall is just four years, and you have a whole other four years, and maybe more, ahead of you. And if you’re like: ‘Gosh, I really want to learn about psych’ then guess what? Take Psych 101 your first year in college.

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