Alexis Payne
May 20, 2024
min read

Should you take AP Classes?

Written by
Alexis Payne
University of Virginia

Class selections can be a confusing time of the year, and you might be torn between what classes to choose. Between wanting to be in classes with your friends, to finding courses that really interest you, it can definitely get difficult to put together that schedule. If this sounds like you, don’t fret! In this week’s post, we’re going to take an in-depth look on the AP classes your school might offer (and if they’re right for you), so let’s get into it!

These AP classes you might have heard about are part of the Advanced Placement Program run by the College Board. These classes allow high school students to take college-level courses and potentially earn credit for the course. HOWEVER- there are a few caveats!If you want to get credit for the class, you are required to take an exam for the course at the end of the year, (BOOO!) which generally takes place in May. The exam is scored on a scale of 5, 1 being not qualified (meaning that you will not get credit at any colleges and failed the exam), 2 being possibly qualified (if you get a 2, the chances are very slim that you’ll get credit since it is still not a passing score), 3 being qualified (you MIGHT get credit, but you did pass the exam), 4 being well qualified (you will usually get credit), and 5 being extremely qualified (you will usually get credit).

Now, you might be asking- how am I supposed to know if AP classes are a good choice for me? These questions (and more) will all be answered, so keep reading!

Why AP Classes are Beneficial

1. You Can Earn College Credit and Save Money

If you earn the required score on the AP Exam, you could earn college credit for the class- allowing you to bypass intro-level college courses. This saves you money down the line since you won’t have to pay to take that course (which would be more expensive!) in college. This could also bump those pesky general education courses out of the way once you get to college, so you can really delve into classes that peak your interests from the start.

2. Show Colleges That You’re Dedicated and Willing To Challenge Yourself

Are you a die-hard science fan? Then you might want to take AP science classes to prove your passion and show your dedication to colleges! Taking these AP classes can impress colleges and allow you to showcase what you’re interested in. By taking these classes, you show colleges that you’re willing to put in the time and effort to do well, which is an amazing quality that colleges are always looking for in applicants.

3. Get College Level Class Experience

Since AP classes are similar to college courses, you will get a glimpse of what classes are like at a college! This can be beneficial to you because you can gain problem-solving, critical thinking, time management, and study skills that will benefit you when taking difficult classes at college. These skills enhance your ability to tackle any problems at hand and excel in your college classes.

4. Get More Knowledgeable In A Subject

AP classes will give you the chance to dive deeper into a subject that interests you. The challenging curriculum of AP classes will allow you to learn about a subject more in-depth than you would in an honors or regular level class. Even for classes you might not initially be the most enthusiastic about, this in-depth learning of a subject could inspire you or possibly spark an interest in a particular career path!

5. Boost Your GPA

While you shouldn’t be taking AP classes solely to boost your GPA (seriously!!!), it’s definitely a good perk. AP classes are graded on a 5.0 scale instead of the regular 4.0 scale. On the AP grading scale, a 5.0 is an A, and a 4.0 is a B, while on the regular grading scale, a 4.0 is an A. This is how students get weighted GPAs above 4.0. So, let’s say history is your favorite subject, and you’ve always performed well in history classes. Instead of taking regular or honors history, why not take an AP history class? You’ll be able to study more in-depth of what interests you and hopefully earn an A, which will increase your GPA!

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Why AP Classes Aren't Always A Good Choice

1. The AP Exam

Although taking the AP exams for the class is might not be mandatory (you can totally just take it for the experience), most students choose to do so to obtain college credit. A lot of people tend to pile up on those AP classes (guilty as charged), so studying for all these exams can really take away a lot of free time and interfere with your personal schedule. Additionally, a vast majority of top colleges will only give credit to scores of 4s and 5s, so if you choose to take the exams make sure you put time into studying! A 4 is equivalent to a B-, B+, or A, and a 5 is equivalent to an A. The AP exams are quite difficult, so striving to earn a score that will get you credit could be challenging. You’ve got this though! It’s not impossible, it’ll just take some effort.

2. Difficulty Of Classes and Exams

Of course, your experience in an AP class will differ based on the subject of the test and your personal interests. Still, overall, AP classes are more challenging and have a more rigorous curriculum compared to honors or regular level classes. The challenging curriculum could require you to spend more time outside of school studying, which over time could become very stressful and tiresome. On a lot of the AP exams, only a tiny percentage of students get a 4 or 5. For example, in 2019, on the AP Biology Exam, only 7.1% of test-takers earned a 5, and 22.1% earned a 4.-------------

Before deciding to take AP classes, ask yourself, “Am I interested in this class?”, “Am I only taking this class because everyone else is?” and “Will I put in the time and effort to succeed in this class?” AP classes take time and dedication. If you’re willing to put in the work needed to do well and get college credit for the course, then AP classes are definitely a good choice for you! Remember, it’s good (and maybe even fun) to challenge yourself!

We hope this helps you with your next round of class selections! Stay tuned for our upcoming blog post next week, and have an amazing week!

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