What Are the Fastest Growing AP Tests . . . and what does that tell us about American education?

Barry Lenson

What Are the Fastest Growing AP Tests . . . and what does that tell us about American education?

What Are the Fastest Growing AP Tests?EdWeek.org just produced a nifty graph that shows which AP tests are attracting the most test-takers these days.  Maybe I am an educational geek of some kind, which explains why I find these statistics interesting.

If you are a geek too, strap on your pocket protector. Here are some statistics that you will enjoy along with me . . .

  • “Human Geography” is the fastest growing AP test subject of all.  10,531 students took it back in 2006, and 45,229 took it in 2011. That’s an increase of 329%. The only question is, what the heck is Human Geography? I thought it meant that your belly button is north of your knees, but apparently not. I did a little research and found out that it is a branch of sociology that studies where people live, and why, and the effect of geography on their cultures. Apparently 45,229 people knew that, but I didn’t.
  • “Chinese Language and Culture” is the second fastest growing AP test. 1,056 students took it in 2007, and 4,126 took it in 2011. That’s a jump of 291%. I expect this increase happened because people who understand China can find jobs in banking and international trade.  But that’s just a guess.
  • “World History” is the third fastest growing AP test. 45,229 students took it in 2006, and 132,548 took it in 2011. That’s an increase of 193%. The perennial strength of this test, I bet, is due to the fact that just about everybody has to study world history in high school. So why not give the test a shot?
  • “Environmental Science” is the fourth fastest growing AP test. 35,208 students took it in 2006, and a whopping 79,738 took it in 2011. That’s an increase of 126%. It’s not an immense increase percentage-wise, but we are looking at a large number of test-takers here. As our economy and businesses become more centered on green issues, I bet we will see even more people taking this AP test in years to come.

And another thing . . .

I just took out my geeky calculator, looked at the statistics on EdWeek’s chart, and determined that in 2011, a total of 1,343,100 American students took the 10 most popular AP exams. It costs $87 to take each of them. That means that the College Board made a ton of profit – about $116,849,700.00 – on these top 10 tests alone.

Clearly, there’s gold to be mined in them there human geographic hills.

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