Guess Again

AP Change Not as Beneficial as it Seems

Anyone who has taken an AP test knows about its guessing penalty. Created to prevent students from gaining points for blatant guessing, the guessing penalty is simple: for every wrong answer, ¼ of a point is subtracted from your score. That, however, is all about to change. College Board has recently announced that AP tests will no longer have a guessing penalty for the first time since their creation in the 1950s.

Those who think the new change will make the tests easier, however, may have to think twice. On the contrary, it may actually make them harder. AP tests are graded on a curve so that around 50% of test-takers pass with a 3 or higher, and tests are adjusted each year to accommodate the curve. Because students can now earn points for lucky guesses, scores will increase, even if the standards of the average test-taker don’t. As a result, the curve is bound to be higher, and luck will play a bigger part in the scores. Those with unlucky guesses will now earn lower scores – simply because they made the wrong random guess.

Tests, too, will increase in difficulty due to the curve. In addition, College Board has announced that the change may be part of a larger overhaul to the AP system, one that would focus on having fewer and more difficult questions, thus downplaying the need for a guessing penalty.

One thing’s for sure. Whatever this change may bring, it’s probably not going to make life any easier for AP students.