For the past two weeks, thousands of New Jersey high school students have spent hours at a time taking difficult tests -- not ones they were forced to take to graduate or get into college, but ones that they chose to take.
High school students take Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams to try to earn college credit for classes in history, math, languages, sciences, English, and electives and possibly graduate earlier.
The tests are typically taken by students who took AP or IB classes in high school, though taking a class is not a requirement for taking a test. More than 131,000 seats in the 78 subject areas offered in the state were filled in the 2014-2015 school year, according to the latest data from the Department of Education's, formerly known as the . Some students, mostly juniors and seniors, took more than one class. A little more than a third of all public school juniors and seniors took at least one of the advanced classes.
Almost 115,000 AP and IB tests were taken in the past school year, with some students taking more than one test. That's about 27,000 more than just two years earlier. About three in 10 high-school students took at least one test, hoping to get a grade of at least 3 on the AP tests and 4 on the IB exams in order to earn college credit.
These are the New Jersey public high schools with the highest percentage of students who got at least a 3 on the AP tests or a 4 on the IB exams:
One of the schools consistently ranked at or near the top of performance measures in the state, this magnet school in Middletown draws high-achieving students from throughout Monmouth. Eight out of 10 juniors and seniors took at least one AP or IB course, while all students took at least one test.
About 35 percent of the upperclassmen at this school located in Lambertville took at least one higher-level class last year, and about a third took at least one test.
This school in Scotch Plains is also consistently among the highest ranked in the state. About 95 percent of juniors and seniors took at least one advanced class, and nine out of 10 also took exams.
The second Monmouth County Vocational district magnet school on the list, this academy is located in Neptune. Almost 29 percent of students took advanced classes and three in 10 tested.
This school is in one of New Jersey’s wealthiest districts and consistently ranks among the best in the state. Two-thirds of students took AP or IB classes and roughly the same proportion also took the tests.
A third Monmouth Vocational academy, this one in Wall, Communications High saw a quarter of its students take at least one advanced class and a slightly greater percentage testing.
All students attending the Hackensack magnet schools of the Bergen County Vocational district took higher-level classes and all also took at least one test.
Almost half the upper-class students at this Pennington school took AP and IB classes, and 45 percent were tested.
Bernards Township's high school had a nearly two-thirds class participation rate and 58 percent of students took college-level tests.
Nearly 79 percent of the juniors and seniors at this school located in Princeton Junction attended AP or IB classes, and two-thirds sat for the exams.