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Magic Number



To Educational Testing Service officials who work in the Advanced Placement program, "3" has always meant "qualified."

But Faculty Council members agreed this week that "4" is now the magic number that must appear on Harvard students' Advanced Placement exams to prove the students qualify for Sophomore Standing.

Harvard's Advanced Standing program now grants sophomore standing to students who take three Advanced Placement exams and achieve a score of 3 or above on each. Mack I. Davis, director of Advanced Standing, recently reviewed the requirements, concluded they weren't stiff enough and recommended the Faculty raise the number of exams required to four and the scores to 4.

But the council this week voted in favor of a less rigorous proposal from the Committee on Undergraduate Education (CUE) which raises the score required to 4 without increasing the number of exams.

Even if the Faculty approves them, the new rules won't go into effect for two years, because the administration needs time to warn secondary schools, a spokesman for the council said yesterday.

The change puts Harvard Advanced Standing requirements roughly on a par with competing universities, most of which now require a 4 or 5 score for Advanced Placement credit, Davis told the council.

But he added that an exact comparison is impossible because other universities grant credit on a one-for-one basis, while Harvard offers a sophomore standing package deal. Columbia University, for example, will grant a student one credit for each Advanced Placement exam he passes with a score of four or above.

Most council members agree that a score of 3 often indicates insufficient preparation for advanced college work.

William Skocpol, associate professor of Physics and a council member, said students with a 3 on their Physics Advanced Placement exams usually have a "shabby" knowledge of the basic material.

Supporting Davis's proposal, Barbara Solomon, senior lecturer in History and Literature and a council member, said yesterday she "was never convinced" that passing an Advanced Placement exam in the humanities or social sciences could substitute for a corresponding Harvard course, regardless of the score earned.

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