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Data Shows More Utah Students Are Taking College-Level Exams

Photo of a Scantron sheet illustrating a student's answers on an Advanced Placement test.
More Utah students are taking Advanced Placement (AP) tests, which allow them to earn college credit while in high school.

More Utah students are gaining experience that could set them up for college. 

Five percent or 1,400 more Utah students took Advanced Placement (AP) tests this year, according to data by the College Board, the nonprofit that distributes the tests. 

Chart showing the number of Utah public school students who have taken SAT, AP and PSAT-related assessments since 2015.
Credit College Board
The number of Utah public school students taking college readiness exams has increased each year since 2015, according to College Board data.

More than two-thirds of the 28,385 Utah students who took at least one AP test passed with a score of three or higher, meaning they will earn college credits for that test, said Mark Peterson, a spokesman for the Utah State Board of Education.

He said the increase is due, in part, to statewide efforts to get more students college and career ready. 

“AP is a great way to get kids, a) looking at college, and b) seeing themselves succeed there particularly if they start scoring threes, fours and fives on those AP exams,” Peterson said. 

Utah also saw an 89% jump in AP test participation among its Latino students in the past four years. This year, 3,356 students who identify as Latino took an AP test compared to 2015, when there were only 1,775 Latino student test takers. 

“This is particularly good news for the state as a whole that we are bringing more students along into college and career readiness,” Peterson said. 

Peterson said some students don’t participate because none of their family or friends have taken AP classes or tests or attended colleges. For low-income students, money to pay for the tests, which can be $94 per exam, can be another barrier. 

Peterson said there are fee waivers available for low-income students. He added that individual Utah school districts like Granite have other programs to help these students. 

“If we have teachers who will get them (students) into these AP courses where they can find some success. That can change things,” Peterson said. “And we end up with new first-generation students and that also is a great outcome.”

Rocio is coming to KUER after spending most of her life under the blistering Las Vegas sun and later Phoenix. She earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Spanish at the University of Nevada, Reno. She did brief stints at The Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Public Radio. She enjoys wandering through life with her husband and their toy poodle.
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