Are you a high school student wondering whether taking AP classes in high school would help your college pursuit? Are you a parent considering enrolling your child for AP classes in high school? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the right place. This article reviews everything you should know about AP classes, including tips on how to get into AP classes in high school. We understand how demanding high school work can be, and you are probably wondering whether adding AP classes would help. Read on to find the answers to your questions.
Is It Worth Taking AP Classes in High School?
Many high school students and their families often wonder whether AP classes are worth it. After all, we often hear of how challenging the courses can be and how difficult it can be to pass the exams.
They are optional, but that doesn’t mean that you should automatically discount them. In the end, AP classes have so many benefits for high school students.
One of the standout features of AP classes is their ability to help nurture and prepare high school students for the stress that comes with college work. Over time, studies have revealed that taking and passing AP exams would give students a comparative advantage as they contest for admission into college. Fortunately, the College Board allows students to participate in AP exams if they want, irrespective of whether they actively participate in AP classes or not.
Who Should Take AP Classes?
By now, you probably already know that the advanced placement experience is not for everyone. Therefore, it’s essential to be sure you are ready for it and meet all the requirements. If you are still wondering whether the AP program is right for you or your child, here are some factors you should consider.
Your past performance in the subject area
This is a no-brainer. AP courses are typically more stressful than high school work. Therefore, if a student is struggling with a particular subject area in high school, the probability of doing well in the AP equivalence of that course may be very slim. For example, if a student has always struggled in science, courses like AP chemistry may not be the best idea. On the other hand, if they are doing well in math, AP calculus may be a course worth trying.
You also want to look at your skills when considering whether to join AP classes or not. You already know that AP courses in humanities like English, philosophy, history, etc., require intense reading and writing. Unfortunately, not every student has the necessary reading or writing skills for these. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh your skills before applying.
Are you prepared for long, complex assignments and in-depth research
If you or your child is preparing to join AP classes, you should know how rigorous it can be. These classes feature college standard works, so students must be prepared for numerous assignments, essays, and in-depth research promptings. If you do not want to spend extra time doing school work, the AP program is probably not for you.
Your Present Schedule
As explained earlier, AP classes are structured just like college with so many assignments and research work to do. Therefore, a student who plays sports all around the year, is actively involved in one or more extracurricular activities or has a part-time job may find it challenging to meet AP classes’ physical and psychological demands.
It’s generally not advisable to take AP classes if it’ll likely affect your GPA negatively. Yes, college admission officers want to see you taking challenging courses and doing well in them. But they also want to see how strong your grades are. If you are worried about maintaining decent grades while taking AP classes, it’s advisable to stay with your honors course. You don’t want to juggle through both and end up failing in both programs.
Why You Should Take AP Classes in High School?
AP classes are becoming more popular than ever because more schools and individuals are becoming more aware of their numerous benefits. To start with, it’s important to note that over 60% of eligible institutions have already registered for the program. Indeed, a few schools may take it for granted because they are not fully aware of what the program brings for their students. But more schools are adopting it because of the benefits it brings to their students. AP classes offer you several immediate benefits as a student, including extra knowledge and an understanding of how college courses work. But beyond that, AP classes would also provide you with future opportunities that can significantly influence your stay in college.
Are you still wondering why you should take AP classes? Here’s a detailed review of some of the most significant benefits of AP classes.
- College credits: Sounds awkward earning college credits in high school, right? Well, AP classes make that possible. With this program, students can start to earn college credits right from their junior high school year. The program is structured to give you points that you can use to replace several introductory courses in college. Imagine how many college credits you’d have acquired by the end of high school if you started in junior high school.
- Saves time: No doubt, one of the biggest reasons why AP classes are gaining more popularity is the amount of time they can save you. Remember that you are taking the program concurrently with high school, so you won’t need to carve out a specific time for it. What’s even more interesting about the program is its ability to replace many introductory classes in college. Therefore, successfully passing these courses typically means that you can skip introductory classes in college, which would save you significant time that you can use for other things.
- Financial benefits: We can’t talk about the benefits of taking AP classes without mentioning the financial part of it. After all, AP classes can help you save thousands of dollars. This point is pretty straightforward; the more college credits you can accumulate while in high school, the fewer the courses you’ll have to offer in college. This would automatically translate to less money on tuition fees and other expenses with the dropped courses.
- Improved college admission chances: it goes without saying that college admission is intensely competitive, and you’ll need any additional results that give you an extra edge in your pursuit for entry. Over time, studies have shown AP classes to raise the “wow” factor when reviewing a student’s high school record. Doing well in AP classes is a sign to college admission officers that you are ready for the pressure of rigorous college work.
- Arrive college better prepared: One of the most apparent benefits of AP classes is their ability to prepare students for the college lifestyle. Beyond sharpening your writing skills, AP classes will also teach you to think critically while improving your problem-solving abilities. The AP curriculum is structured to teach students how to navigate the academic expectations that college courses would throw at them. Additionally, AP classes typically involve several assignments and studies, which is precisely how college is set up. Therefore, these study schedules will help acquaint you with the college lifestyle before you get into college.
Do AP Classes Give You More Credits in High School?
You’ve probably heard people talk about how AP classes can help to boost college credits, and you are wondering whether it is true or how it works. The correct answer to the question is “yes, you can earn high school credit for each AP course that you successfully pass.”
All you need to do is register for these classes in high school and work hard to score well in them. Bear in mind that AP exams are typically scored on a scale of 1-5, with one being the lowest and 5 being the highest score. Many colleges accept a score of 3 in an AP exam as college credit in the subject area. However, some schools only accept a minimum of 4 for college credits. Therefore, it’s important to research what’s accepted in your school beforehand.
The more competitive admission into a college is, the more likely it is for them to require higher AP scores for college credits. Moreover, the challenging nature of AP courses makes them a criterion that some schools would look at when giving a weighted GPA to students. Therefore, AP courses do not only create the potentiality of earning college credit; it also puts you in a better position to receive high school credits, improve your GPA, and earn an impressive-looking transcript for college applications.
How Important are AP Classes for College Admission?
There’s no debating that course rigor plays such an important role when ivy league colleges decide their admission process. After all, these top schools want to be sure that students can handle a challenging workload before admitting them.
Therefore, we can easily see the importance of AP classes for college admissions. However, AP exam scores are less significant when compared to the importance of the classes themselves. Yes, colleges value students that enroll for AP classes and earn top grades, but that shouldn’t make you panic about scoring high on the exams.
Remember that it’s up to you to choose whether to self-report your scores or not. This means that you can consider reporting your scores if you’ve passed very well. On the other hand, you can choose to leave your scores out of your college applications if you’ve not done so well in the exams.
Pros and Cons of AP Classes
Like every other thing, the AP program has its advantages and disadvantages. However, many people tend to focus solely on the benefits of AP classes when thinking of applying. While this can be an excellent motivation to start, not reviewing the disadvantages would make you overwhelmed when you begin to encounter them. To help, this section will review some of the obvious benefits and negative effects of AP classes.
An opportunity to earn college credits
We’ve talked about this one already. Many colleges would offer college credits to students for their performance in specific AP exams. Just ensure that you look up the college’s website to see their policies on AP qualifications.
Better prepares you for college
One of the most apparent benefits of AP classes for high school students is their ability to prepare you for college. Several studies point to the fact that high-scoring AP students are more likely to score more in their first year of college. This further proves that students benefit more from the rigor of AP classes compared to the stress it comes with.
Weighted grades can boost your GPA
Many high schools weight GPAs when calculating GPA, often adding up to an entire point for students’ participation in AP classes. Still, bear in mind that while weighing your GPA would be beneficial, it won’t save your GPA if you fail to do well in exams.
AP courses are time-consuming
It goes without saying that AP classes would mean more workload on your already overstretched schedule. Since the curricula are intended to suit college-level standards, you’ll find yourself needing to invest more time and effort.
Exams are expensive
Perhaps, one of the most significant disadvantages of enrolling in AP classes is the cost of their exams. In the US, students would need to cough out at least $95 to write each exam. The fees can go up to $125/exams for students living outside US territories.
Taking a handful of AP exams would easily incur several hundred dollars which may be too much for an average high school student.
Many schools don’t take AP credits
Before you get gassed about the possibility of earning college credits with your AP scores, bear in mind that some select schools do not accept AP scores as college credits. Some others would accept certain subjects and reject other subjects. Therefore, it’s essential to properly inquire about your school’s stance on AP classes beforehand.
Wrapping Things Up: Does Taking AP Classes in High School Help?
When it comes to deciding whether taking AP classes in high school is worth it, there’s often so much to consider. However, it all boils down to your goals and what you intend to do with your AP results. AP classes are generally challenging, but their results would give you a cutting edge while applying for college admissions. Additionally, AP classes can help you improve your GPA. So, it’s easy to see that AP classes are actually worth it.
If you found value in this post, take your learning to the next level by exploring our comprehensive collection of AP Guides.