Advanced placement tests mean college credit and deeper knowledge

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There is a huge demand for higher education and that's one reason college just keeps getting more expensive.

High school students can test out of some college courses, but educators say studying for the test can help them discover what subjects they love in the process.

Alex Cohen has been a student at BASIS Scottsdale charter school since fifth grade.

“I love it,” Cohen said. “Sometimes I feel this school was made for me because it is so small. You get to know everyone really well.”

Now a junior, Cohen has been cranking through a battery of College Board advanced placement (AP) tests, and he's scored a five out of five on all of them.

“I've gotten a five on psychology, calculus AB, calculus BC, European history, government, world history,” Cohen rattled off a list. “So many, sometimes I lose count of what I even took.”

But he knows they are all worth college credit at state universities. Not only has he taken a lot of the tests, he received a perfect score on the Calculus BC test. He's one of only nine people in the world who accomplished that.

Cohen credits the AP-heavy BASIS curriculum with giving him the in-depth knowledge he needs, but he is clearly a rock star student, even in this group of gifted children.

College credit is only one of the upsides of focusing on the AP tests.

“It can save families tens of thousands of dollars down the road,” said Head of School, Elizabeth McConaghy. “College and post-college is so competitive now, that it's really helpful for the students to have a solid foundation in all the different areas so when they go to college, they have a better idea of the track they want to take.”

McConaghy encourages parents to challenge their children to take on the more difficult AP courses to better prepare even if they don't get credit for their score.

“If you can get excused from a semester of college,” Cohen said. “It's worth the savings.”

Alex said he will have passed at least 17 of the tests by graduation. That will put him that much closer to his career goal.

“I really want to be a doctor,” he said. “I've known I want to be a doctor for a really long time.”

BASIS pays for its students to take AP tests. Many schools do not. They cost $91 each, but can lead to college credit, which costs thousands.