Are AP Classes Useless?

by Jessica Hill

Knowing the difference between electives and AP ones can better help students decide which classes they would like to take and what they might want to pursue. AP subjects are more difficult than regular ones, so without a proper look into the process that taking one of these classes involves, it might seem like these classes have no purpose other than giving students a challenge where needed.

AP classes function differently from any other kind of class because the curriculum is meant to prepare students for the corresponding AP Exam, a test graded out of five points, and the score is sent to any colleges upon application. Unfortunately, taking an exam costs $110 each, but having good scores sent to future schools can significantly improve a student’s chances at getting in, so enrolling in Advanced Placement can give you an advantage.

Along with the exam, the actual class is relatively difficult—there can be an abundance of assignments or material to learn. In this respect, a B is a pretty decent grade, but colleges look at students’ grades in AP classes, so it would benefit someone to shoot for higher than that. It depends on how the student approaches the class and what the material is— a lot of people fare just fine when faced with an AP class. “I don’t think that it’s actually that difficult; however, there is quite a bit of reading involved,” said Alexandra Osorio, sophomore in AP Human Geography. “The homework load is quite nice, and [our teacher] gives us enough time to complete our assignments—  it’s up to us what we do with that time.”

AP classes vary based on what is being learned, but they may also differ by teacher depending on the learning style that is found applicable. While most students find their AP classes interesting, there can be some aspects of the class that they would like to change in order to make learning more efficient. An anonymous student in AP European History explained that they  “would rather do a lot of work for something that helps us learn the material than just do a lot of excess work.” Perhaps it would be a good idea to consult students on suggestions at the end of semester or year in order to improve classes academically and make them more enjoyable.

Besides being beneficial to college entrance chances, there are a wide variety of AP classes, and it can be motivating to choose subjects that seem interesting. Plus, about half of them have predecessors, such as AP French or AP Physics, but there are also classes like AP Psychology or AP European History which do not require any prior knowledge.

Students can also get ahead in subjects that they are planning to take in college by taking the corresponding AP course. “I think it would be beneficial to take an advanced chemistry course since I am planning on going into the medical field as a career,” said sophomore Sarah Long. This can also be convenient as classes can be taken as advanced placement that  may be available in university, so students do not have to waste their time learning that material in post-secondary school.

High school is one of the best places for self-discovery, so trying out both Advanced Placement classes and electives can be a great way to find interests or possible subjects to pursue in college. Though it seems like a good idea to pile them on during the last few years, it can be extremely overwhelming to juggle so many demanding classes. It is recommended to have a maximum of two to three AP classes per year and to develop organizational skills because balancing all your classes makes doing well in them easier and less stressful. Staying healthy and getting enough sleep are extremely important, so it would benefit students to only take AP classes that they are truly interested in instead of piling them up for college credits. Your happiness and well-being should always be prioritized over getting into a prestigious university or anything like that— make sure you choose a path that will bring you contentment.

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