AP Classes: Worth It? | Teen Ink

AP Classes: Worth It? MAG

By Anonymous

     You see them in the halls, in a daze, stumbling toward their classes. Their faces are ashen with fatigue; their spines are bent under the weight of a dozen textbooks. They are the ones struggling valiantly to stifle a yawn during class, the ones frantically rereading their notes before an exam on the nature of light photons during photosynthesis.

They are the few, the chosen. They are the AP students.

The truth is, honors students are no longer a select few. Over half of university-bound students take AP classes, and of these, most take at least two. The AP system drills into our brains that our college success hinges on taking as many advanced courses as possible, but is it really worth it? “On average, I spend three to four hours each day on homework,” says one senior, who is taking five AP classes. “With the number I’m taking, I really doubt that I will be confident going into each test.”

With increasing pressure to enroll in AP courses, not only for college credit but also for the weighted GPA, it is no wonder that students often find their grades suffering and their stress levels soaring. In reality, AP courses have become mere trophies, adding little more than volume and sparkle to a competitive college application.

One of the major flaws in the AP system is that every class is geared toward a standardized test. The result is that comprehensive learning is sacrificed for the sake of test preparation, with teachers spending the most time on topics likely to appear on the AP exam.

“It feels like sometimes we rush through material or ignore parts of the subject,” says one senior. “It would be nice to sit back and learn for the sake of learning, not just to get a five on the test in May.”

And just because a student receives a high grade on the AP test does not mean he or she will receive college credit. Many universities now don’t consider an AP class in high school to be synonymous with an actual undergraduate college-level class, which is usually a three-hour, lecture-based course with varying degrees of homework.

According to another AP student, “the sheer volume of learning” is what makes the workload so challenging. It is simply not feasible to absorb an entire college class in less than an hour a day, with all the other classes and responsibilities.

For those who wish to delve further into a particular subject, college-level classes may be a fantastic idea. But the current AP course system is flawed and too test-intensive to provide students with an optimum learning environment. Perhaps more high schools should consider offering their students the opportunity to take actual college courses through a local university.

Or maybe we should all just go to college.

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This article has 79 comments.

Poppaagrande said...
on Sep. 23 2014 at 3:16 pm
That's true, my AP score didn't give me college credit..

on Apr. 23 2014 at 7:37 pm
Caitibug SILVER, Powell, Tennessee
7 articles 0 photos 10 comments
I completely agree with your opinion on AP classes. I don't have any  AP classes currently, but I know people who do have them, and they are the people who are the most stressed out. I feel sorry for them. Great job on your article!

on Mar. 28 2014 at 7:09 pm
izzy_0314 BRONZE, Hartland, Wisconsin
2 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
Real bands save fans, real fans save bands. -Michael Clifford

I completely agree with this article. I'm going to be a freshman next year and will be taking an AP English class as well as an extremely advanced math class for my age. I have been so stressed about ending my school year strong as well as preparing for the incoming year. This is accurate to the highest degree and its nice to see that I'm not the only one who believes that there is a lot pressure involved in school. There are pros and cons to AP classes as well as other advances courses, but it true that there is a flaw in the system. There always is.

on Mar. 9 2014 at 9:17 am
WrappedUpInBooks, -, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments
I agree, there's lots of pressure to fit as many AP's into your schedule as physically possible, but taking too many in one year does more harm than good. I have a friend who is aiming for all AP courses in her schedule next year, even though she is already overbooked with extracurriculars and two senior-level AP's. I take one AP (World History) and don't find it to be too challenging, but then again it is a subject I'm interested in. With all the snow days we have had recently and already relatively short class periods, I have to admit most of us feel less than prepared for the exam. Overall, I have to say AP's are useful in moderation. Taking two or three throughout high school that interest you won't burn you out and will help you in the long run. Great job with this article!

on Mar. 3 2014 at 12:18 pm
Sophia Welber, Bethesda, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I am taking four AP classes this year and I have found that these classes are my most interesting and challenging ones. It is true though that not everyone is cut out for AP classes especially the more difficult ones. However, challenging yourself with one or two can never be a bad idea especially if they are in a subject you excel at.

on Sep. 30 2013 at 3:13 pm
Yousmell-likealoser BRONZE, Belgium, Wisconsin
4 articles 5 photos 43 comments

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"Life may not always be what you want, but life is all you've got; so stick a flower in your bellybutton and be happy!"

I take an AP English course that I was originally very excited for because English is my favorite subject and writing is my passion, but I hate the class. Imediately it was too much work, and the teacher is very intimidating. I don't feel like I'm qualified for this class and honestly looking at some of the other people in my class, they aren't qualified either. But still they strut around like they're something special for being in the class. I wholeheartedly agree that AP classes are becoming more for status than for learning and I am beginning to wonder what the point in taking the class is if it isn't going to count in college anymore. I may as well be taking a 10th grade English class rather than an AP Freshman class if this is not going to count in my future.

G. said...
on Aug. 9 2013 at 11:01 am
I actually prefer AP classes to regular ones. Yes, they may be challenging and they may take up most of my free time, but they challenge me, and they keep me engaged. They give me something to do. And it doesn't hurt that passing all of my exams gives me the opportunity of skipping those classes in college. In comparison, regular classes are so mind-numbingly boring. In comparison to IB classes, the workload is more challenging, but the amount of work is much less. AP classes are the way to go.

dwoobs SILVER said...
on Aug. 5 2013 at 7:15 pm
dwoobs SILVER, Overland Park, Kansas
5 articles 2 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." Ernest Hemingway

As much as I agree that AP classes are grueling and far too focused on tests, I think this article dramatizes them. The truth of the matter is that kids who take AP classes are far more sought-after college applicants if they perform well in the class and on the test. The pressure to take APs is rising, but college acceptance rates are falling. You either have to beat the curve or miss it and there isn't much room for passion until you're in college. You don't major in high school, so that's a luxury you shouldn't think you deserve just yet. 

on Jun. 20 2013 at 3:32 am
Sketched97 PLATINUM, Silver Spring, Maryland
31 articles 4 photos 167 comments
I agree. When picking AP courses you have to make sure they are truly your strongest subjects and that you can at least bear the subject matter. I am great at math and terrible at history. My sophomore year I was pressed to take an AP but US History was the only one offered for my grade so I took it and ended up with a 3 (I'm pretty sure I barely scraped that). Next year I took AP Calculus and got a 5. Some are also easier than others; AP Environmental Science is a breeze. 

Brisa PLATINUM said...
on May. 21 2013 at 2:23 am
Brisa PLATINUM, Wasilla, Alaska
20 articles 7 photos 38 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Si dan a tú papel alineado, escribas el otro camino."
"If they give you lined paper, write the other way"
-Juan Ramon Jiminez

Thanks for this article, it was definitly thought-provoking. I'm getting ready to take four AP classes next year, my senior year. Benefits: increased responsibility, college prep/simulation, better teachers (they're often more involved and personal), saving $$$ if you pass the exam and earn college credit, and of course it always looks good on your transcript. If you can balance AP with something recreational (not necessarily competitive sports; these actually can cause more stress if not managed well), like hiking, community service, hobbies, just something to loosen up and provide an outlet, then you're golden, and AP classes can provide a huge overall benefit. Again, thanks for the article. Just sharing my experience thus far.

KB47 said...
on May. 10 2013 at 12:31 am
It's true that AP classes almost seem worthless depending on the teacher you get. Some teachers are great at not only gearing students for the AP test, but also making sure they learn. Other teachers focus specifically on the test and what students should be learning is lost on them. It's better for high schools to just partner with a college and give out dual credits. My hs is doing that with the running start program. Tuition is free, but hs students have to cover all other fees.

Kate Matilda said...
on Apr. 29 2013 at 11:47 am
Kate Matilda, Beijing, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I also disagree wid sme points.Can u plz mention those dissagreements?

Egyption said...
on Apr. 8 2013 at 4:35 am
Egyption, Cairo, Other
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments
Despite the fact that there are some points i disagree with,  i really get interested reading this well-prepared article. nice one keep  going.

on Feb. 17 2013 at 6:00 pm
Positivity_At_Its_Finest DIAMOND, Morrow, Georgia
56 articles 2 photos 148 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is a stage, get on it and perform your best act.

im a sophmore, and i want to take AP language in my junior year. some of my friends are currently in AP classes. they say that the experience is not pleasant; they say it's not the class, it's the teacher. they claim that she gives them a ton of work, and it's very easy to get behind. im not sure if they're actually learning the information or if they're just becoming homework robots, lol!!!! when i take AP language, i want to learn the information, not just do a whole bunch of work for nothing.

on Jan. 22 2013 at 5:09 pm
I think that to get the loan from creditors you ought to have a good reason. Nevertheless, once I have received a consolidation loan, just because I wanted to buy a building.

SpyceChik GOLD said...
on Jan. 11 2013 at 12:16 pm
SpyceChik GOLD, Accra, Other
14 articles 0 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
If it must be done, it must be done well.

You have a point there but the fact of the matter is that not every school is like your school. I'm sure there are many schools which adopt the approach that your school does but there are also many other schools do not. For those schools I think that the essence of AP classes is lost since 'comprehensive learning' doesn't really take place.

SpyceChik GOLD said...
on Jan. 11 2013 at 12:12 pm
SpyceChik GOLD, Accra, Other
14 articles 0 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
If it must be done, it must be done well.

I just love this!

CountOlaf11 said...
on Nov. 5 2012 at 10:51 am
You have a convincing point with plenty of support for your view. Nice persuasion!

on Oct. 6 2012 at 6:36 pm
i_am_so_very_large_and_towering SILVER, Mililani, Hawaii
5 articles 1 photo 114 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

this was a really well written article - really good point!!!!!!!!!!!

on Aug. 9 2012 at 6:19 pm
I think that to get the credit loans from banks you must have a great motivation. Nevertheless, one time I've got a short term loan, because I wanted to buy a bike.