/When to Take an AP Class

When to Take an AP Class

The pros and cons of taking an AP course

By Lauren Penington

PROS:

Academic Rigor

When enrolling for classes you need to not only consider what will be beneficial to your learning, but what will look good on a transcript. Colleges are more likely to be impressed by a student willing to push themselves in advanced classes. You will get a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter and be able to boost your GPA.

Scholarships

Because AP classes demonstrate academic rigor and can result in a higher GPA, they can give you an opportunity to qualify for grants and scholarships. If you score above a 3 on the end of year exam, many colleges and universities will accept the test as college credit. This allows you a head start on that area and getting a few credits out of the way. However, if the AP class pertains to your major, beware. Many schools recommend you do not skip classes dealing with your area of study lest you forget material, fall behind, or lack significant knowledge necessary for the higher level classes. 

Preparedness

Taking a more in-depth class, especially one relating to your potential career, will help you in the transition to college. You will be at an advantage by already having a background in the information. It will certainly make the transition easier and allow you time to gain stable footing in your new college life.

CONS:

Challenging Coursework

If you struggle in school, AP classes may not be the best choice. They require a significant amount of commitment — both in and out of school hours. Projects, tests, and lessons found in normal classes are mirrored in AP courses to a more advanced degree. Be prepared to dedicate hours to studying and homework for each course.

Challenging Areas

For example if you do not enjoy chemistry, it is for the best that you do not enroll in AP Chemistry. The subject matter may be more difficult or less interesting, hurting your performance in the class. Just because an AP class looks impressive does not mean that colleges will rank an C in one over an A in a regular course. 

Rubric Grading

The final exam is based on a rubric. This may be appealing to some, but for others, not so much. It can be difficult to showcase your ability while maintaining the guidelines set. Furthermore, the questions on the exam are randomized but can lean heavily toward one area of the subject. Even if you are solid on the rest of them test, if the test is centered around your weakest unit, it can deter your score.