Advanced Placement (AP) classes offer students the opportunity to earn college credit and stand out on college applications. While taking AP classes can be a great way for students to challenge themselves academically, it’s important to consider whether or not they are worth the additional effort and commitment that comes along with them.
Is taking AP classes worth it? Taking AP classes is worth it for any student seeking admission to highly selective colleges in the United States (Source: Stanford). In addition, taking multiple AP classes can bolster students’ applications and indicates they can handle challenging coursework. College admissions experts students should take as many as 7 to 12 AP courses when considering applying to the US’s most elite universities.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of taking AP classes.
What Are The AP Classes?
The AP program began in 1955, with courses in more than two dozen subjects. The College Board administers the AP program.
The AP program offers 37 courses in various subject areas, including math, science, English, history, social sciences, art, and world languages.
These classes intend to help students earn college credit and challenge them to master certain subjects. The AP Exams are generally administered over four days in May.
The Pros of Taking AP Classes
For some students taking AP classes is about something other than college credit. It has to do with taking that next step in your education and embracing the high-quality material that AP classes offer.
Here are the pros and cons of taking AP classes:
1- Taking AP Classes Makes Most Students More Likely To Succeed In College
Taking an AP class can be a great way for high schoolers to prepare themselves for college-level courses. Not only do most colleges accept AP credits, but many employers view them as evidence of a student’s ability to handle challenging academic work.
Additionally, taking an AP course can help students build critical thinking and problem-solving skills—skills that will serve them well in both college and their future careers.
Preparing for AP Exams can help students build better and more effective study habits that serve them beyond their studies in college.
2- AP Classes Give Students a Competitive Advantage When Applying For College
Another benefit of taking an AP course is that it may give students a competitive advantage when applying for college.
Colleges often look favorably on applicants who have taken rigorous courses like those offered in the AP program. This can make all the difference when it comes time to decide who gets accepted into their institution.
Many colleges and universities award credit for AP courses; however, you typically need to score a 3 or higher on an AP test to earn this credit.
Additionally, if students score higher on AP exams, they can skip introductory classes, allowing them to progress more quickly into coursework for their major.
3- Taking AP Classes Provide Students With a Challenge
One of the primary benefits of taking AP classes is that they provide students with a challenge. Because AP classes are more rigorous than standard courses, they can help students learn more in-depth content that is not typically covered in regular classes.
Additionally, students who take AP classes can earn college credit for their hard work, which can save them time and money down the road.
Having AP classes on your transcript may help you stand out to college admissions officers when it comes time to apply.
4- Taking an AP class could Get Student Qualified For Financial Aid
AP classes can help students boost their GPA. Because AP classes are more rigorous, they are generally weighted more in a student’s GPA, so achieving an “A” or “B” in an AP class can boost a student’s GPA up more than an “A” or “B” compared to a regular class (Source: Arizona State University)
Since many colleges offer merit-based grants and scholarships for students based on their GPA, taking an AP class can help students be awarded financial aid or scholarships.
The Cons of Taking AP Classes
Though there are many benefits associated with taking an AP class, there are also some drawbacks that you should be aware of before deciding that this is the best route for you.
5- Taking AP Classes Require More Work And Dedication Than Regular Classes Due To Their Advanced Nature
For starters, these classes typically require more work and dedication than regular classes due to their advanced nature. You may have less free time when studying for exams and completing assignments in an effort to keep up with your peers and stay on top of your studies.
Moreover, if you don’t perform well on tests or papers, you might find yourself struggling with an unimpressive GPA—something that could potentially hurt your chances of getting into certain colleges or universities down the line.
6- Taking AP Classes Require High Scores On Standardized Exams
If you do not pass the end-of-year exam with at least a 3 out of 5, you will receive no credit from your college or university—which defeats the purpose of taking such a difficult class in the first place!
Additionally, because these courses are so competitive and often require high scores on standardized exams, some students may become overwhelmed or discouraged by the amount of pressure they face.
7- No Guarantee That Any College Credit Will Be Earned From Taking an AP Class
Finally, because many colleges only accept certain scores from certain tests for credit, there is no guarantee that any college credit will be earned from taking an AP class.
Ultimately, whether or not taking an AP class is worth it depends on your individual goals and abilities as a student.
Are AP Classes Actually Helpful?
In addition to allowing students to earn college credit while in high school, AP courses prepare students for success in both college and real life. A positive correlation exists between students’ level of success in AP courses and their ability to graduate within four years of college or university, according to a 2015 College Board report.
Consider signing up for an AP class if you think you’d benefit from challenging yourself while preparing for college-level work.
However, if you don’t think that this type, of course, would be right for you—either because it seems too difficult or doesn’t meet any specific goals that you have—then perhaps this isn’t necessary for your academic journey.
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So, is taking an AP class worth it? Ultimately, this depends on each student’s circumstances and goals—but for those with the time and dedication necessary to succeed in an advanced course, taking an AP class can certainly pay off in the long run.
With careful planning and hard work, these courses can set you up for success both during high school and beyond!