Red Cloud grad aces AP English exam

posted on July 11, 2012

Lyle Jacobs ’12 has good reason to be proud of a single-digit test score.

Unlike the world of high school subject tests, which are scored out of 100%, and in which a 5% would more likely be cause for grounding than praise, Lyle’s 5 was on the grueling Advanced Placement English exam.

A score of 5 is the highest one can achieve on AP exams. According to the College Board, the organization that oversees the AP exams nationwide, such a score means the student is “exceedingly well qualified” in that subject from a collegiate perspective. AP exams are essentially college-level courses for highly motivated high school students.

Jacobs says that he was very surprised when he received his score in the mail, because he did not think he had done nearly so well. He knew that he had aced the exam’s multiple choice section, and felt confident in his answers to two of the three expository essays.

On the third essay, however, he believed he had made a critical mistake. The prompt asked students to choose a character from a book they had read, and describe how that character’s outlook on the world had changed over the course of the narrative. Jacobs chose a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

Jacobs said that about three-quarters into his essay, he decided that he should have chosen a different character from the book to write about. By making the choice he did, Jacobs said he felt that his essay was not as good as it could have been. The test readers apparently disagreed with this assessment!

Many colleges and universities in the U.S. grant college credits or advanced placement in course tracks based on AP test scores; those in over twenty other countries do likewise. Policies vary by institution, but most schools require a score of 3 or higher on any given exam for credit to be granted or course prerequisites to be waived (and some will award an "A" grade for a 5 score).

In addition to Jacobs’ high score, seniors Tyrell O'Donnell and Marisa Snider achieved scores of 3 on the exam, meaning they also passed and may receive college credit as a result.