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Are AP Classes Overrated?
By Hanni Yang & Subaita Tarika
Published November 27, 2022
At exactly 11:58 pm, you finally submit your work for AP English Language and Composition, letting out a sigh of relief. Though what is an AP class? What are we working for? AP courses are Advanced Placement courses that offer college-level courses and exams that students can take during their high school years.
There are both positive and negative aspects to taking AP classes. You can take AP credits if you pass the exam with at least a 3. Although there are multiple benefits, the disadvantages will definitely be worrisome. Considering the time, the level, and the challenges of taking AP classes, are AP classes really worth it to take?
Advantages of Taking AP Courses
There are many perks for students taking AP classes. Firstly, these classes grant students a chance to prepare for college. Students will get a glimpse of what college courses are like, and this will help them decide what majors and minors are the best fit for them when they apply for colleges. Furthermore, these classes offer college credit if students pass the AP exams with a 3 or higher, the highest being 5. But even if one doesn’t pass the exam, just taking the chance to be in an AP class is enough to look impressive on their college applications or their resumes.
Moreover, these classes may boost a student’s GPA. In the majority of schools, if a student takes an AP course, their GPA on that course will increase by one point. For instance, if a student has a GPA of 3.2 in AP Human Geography, they can receive 4.2 at the end of the school year. In TYWLS of Astoria, the grading system is slightly different, but students’ GPAs will increase by some points to their grades. Lastly, AP courses open up more opportunities for students to receive scholarships — so if one is passionate and good at a certain AP subject, they may be recognized for their abilities.
Disadvantages of Taking AP Courses
There are also downsides to taking AP courses. These courses are college-leveled, so they may be challenging for high school students. Additionally, these college-level courses push students into striving for absolute success, which can have many benefits. However, taking too many can burden them with pressure. Students also feel overwhelmed with their GPA and other important exams, so AP courses add more worry to their academics. The standard of normal classes and AP classes may be different. Receiving full credits may be easy for some students in normal classes, but receiving full credits for AP courses may take a while. Considering these requirements, students would have to balance their classes and schedule, which may prove difficult for some since this may interfere with their personal lives or their mental health.
Another flaw of taking AP classes is that some colleges don’t accept AP credit or only accept specific AP courses. For instance, some colleges such as Columbia University will accept specific AP classes that are related to health and science such as AP Biology and AP Chemistry since they’re more of a research institution. Additionally, it’s expensive to take AP exams. It costs $95 for students to take one AP exam in their school, but it will cost more if the students take the AP exams outside of their school. Although it may be free for the students, it is a lot for schools to pay for.
Should Students Take AP Classes?
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with two of our AP teachers, to discuss their thoughts and opinions on this matter. Special thanks to Diana Vlavianos Stark, who teaches ELA 10, ELA 11, and AP English Language and Composition — and Scott Melcher, who teaches AP Psychology, ELA 10, and 12th grade Government and Economics.
What is it like to teach an AP class? If you also teach a normal class, how is it like balancing the two?
Diana: It is challenging because I'm teaching students how to write and how to analyze the texts as well, but I love teaching AP classes because I love being able to push beyond the surface level. It is nice to have an AP class to challenge myself, too. Also, balancing both AP Lang and ELA classes often causes me to forget which class I am teaching, but you all are equally great students to work with!
Scott: Teaching an AP class is a fun challenge; it gives the students and me a chance to experience different types of subjects and coursework. The hardest part is trying to balance thinking about the exam and also thinking about the projects and skills that you want to see happen in your classroom.
In your opinion, do you think AP classes are overrated or not?
Diana: No, just challenging, and sometimes we feel like we have to take AP classes, but there should be no pressure. As long as you’re passionate about the subject, you will be okay!
Scott: I think that AP classes are not for everyone and people need to be really thoughtful about which classes they're choosing and why they’re choosing them.
We also had the opportunity to interview a few of the juniors this year, who are taking an average of two AP classes. For the students we interviewed, they have slightly different answers about the AP classes, but their reasons are similar. Students think that AP classes help to save money and time. It also helps to build better on your resume and college applications.
How many AP classes do you take? How is it like taking them?
Student 1: I take two AP classes and the work is tough since there is a lot assigned in a span of little time. But, as long as we review and study, we should be fine.
Student 2: I take two AP classes this year, but I have only ever taken one class before in my sophomore year. It was an easy course for me, as I found the topic interesting and new. My history with that specific subject allowed me to understand that I would exceed in a class all about it. This course was not difficult to complete — I was only taking that singular AP class at the time — I could focus on that course without the worry of neglecting any other subjects.
In your opinion, do you think AP classes are overrated or not?
Student 1: No, I think that AP classes have at least some importance. The credits we receive from these classes will benefit us with college because they’ll help us save money and time.
Student 2: I think AP classes are somewhat overrated because it doesn’t define how smart we are. We all work at different paces. However, taking these classes would look good for college and our resumes. Also helping to reduce college fees.
Student 3: Yes, AP classes are especially overrated in relation to college credit and final examination scores. Completing an AP course is really only valuable if students do not wish to complete the course in college, resulting in reduced tuition costs. Only take AP courses in high school if you really care about what it's about — Don't waste your time in a class that you only want to get a 5 in for the test at the end of the year!
“Why AP Courses Are Overrated - Cornell Roosevelt Institute.” Cornellrooseveltinstitute.org, Cornell Roosevelt Institute, 2017,
“Are AP Classes Worth It? Pros and Cons.” CollegeVine Blog, 10 Nov. 2020, blog.collegevine.com/ap-classes-pros-and-cons/.
Wignall, Allison. “The Pros and Cons of Taking AP Classes - College Raptor.” College Raptor Blog, College Raptor, Inc., 8 Aug. 2016, www.collegeraptor.com/getting-in/articles/college-applications/pros-cons-taking-ap-classes-high-school/.
“AP Credit < School of General Studies | Columbia University.” Columbia.edu, 2022, bulletin.columbia.edu/general-studies/academic-policies/ap-credit/.
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