What Are AP Classes in High School? Are They Worth It?

Sunday, December 17, 2023
What Are Ap Classes Worth It

If you’re a young high school student making your way towards college, you may have heard about AP classes and you might just be how they can help you excel in your academic career. In turn, you may be asking yourself “what exactly are AP classes?” Or “are AP classes really worth it?” The simple answer is yes. AP classes are a very important step towards determine your path in college. However, when choosing what to study and when is difficult already, adding AP classes to that search can just add more confusion. While the decision is ultimately up to you, we have some advice on what to expect from AP classes and the best time to take them.


What Are AP classes in High School?

AP (advanced placement) is a program of classes developed by the College Board to give high school students an introduction to college-level classes and also gain college credit before even graduating high school. This level of access for high school students is still novel and attractive to both the more engaged, degree-driven students, as well as parents who understand the importance of early college credit. However, with all the positives these courses promise, there are some negatives to consider. Namely: level of difficulty. 

AP courses are more difficult than the usual high school class and also require passing an AP exam at the end of the year to gain the college credit. These exams are very specific tests on everything you’ve learned in your AP class that year. They are the summation, the end cap to your entire time in that class. The tests are scored on a scale from 1 to 5 with any score above 3 considered passing, though some schools will only accept 4’s and 5’s for credit. Taking AP courses and passing the tests are signs that you’re prepared for college and can put you at the top of the list for admissions. 

Before jumping into any AP class, however, consider which ones you to want take, and why you’re taking it. 


The Benefits of Taking an AP Class

While most students plan to take AP classes because they know it will improve their admissions chances, there are other benefits of taking AP classes in high school as well. The benefits of each class are the key to finding the one that’s right for you. 


Save Money & Earn Credit

Financially, taking AP classes can be a twofold benefit. While high school is free for most, college is not. Save yourself some tuition money by taking AP classes in high school. You’ll earn college credits without paying college tuition and also get a head start on your college requirements. Many colleges also look at AP experience when deciding on who to award scholarship money to, so AP classes can improve your chances of receiving scholarships. 


Challenge Yourself

Are you finding yourself bored in your regular high school classes? It may be that they’re not challenging enough for you. AP classes provide an opportunity for students to challenge themselves and provide stimulation for students who have surpassed high school level classes. Everybody learns at their own pace and most high school courses are geared toward a general knowledge base. It is important to find out about your level of education early and challenge yourself when you know that you are ready. If you are unsure of the level of work that is required, and whether you will be able to keep up, ask your guidance or academic advisor for help on deciding whether or not to switch to AP.


Improve Admissions Potential

College admissions professionals like to see that you have challenged yourself and are also prepared for college-level curriculum. Doing well in AP courses can show your desired University’s admissions staff that you are ready to succeed at the collegiate level. In addition, many high schools give extra weight to AP classes which can improve your GPA overall. In many cases, getting a B in an AP class is better than getting an A in a regular level high school course. This can help show the admissions staff that you have a more strategic and thoughtful approach to your college application. 


Prepare for College

Transitioning into college-level courses early on can help you adjust to a more rigorous level of study. AP classes are designed to be as challenging as college courses and can improve your skills in writing, critical thinking, and analysis. They also often require more outside research than high school classes, which can help you prepare for the level of outside work and self accountability that will be expected of you in college. Diving into a more rigorous level of work while still in the safety of your peers and parents will go a long way during that first college Freshman year in a whole new environment. Not to mention, you’ll have some of those early Freshman requirements taken care of before you get there. 


So, Are AP Classes Worth it?

While there are many benefits to taking AP classes in high school, you should also be cautious of overextending yourself. Take into consideration the course load for each class you sign up for and remember that you also need to allow for personal time. Perhaps you can consider asking an upperclassman about AP classes they have taken and see what they thought of the workload and overall requirements. 

High school isn’t just about taking as many high level classes as you can and spending all of your time studying. AP classes may look good on college applications, but so do extracurricular activities and community involvement. Leave yourself time to socialize and relax outside of your school work.

Getting a B in an AP class may be better than an A in a regular class, but a C or D isn’t. AP classes will not be worth it if it hurts your overall GPA. Be sure to choose wisely when looking at which AP classes you take in order to secure the best possible GPA. The AP classes are offered as a stepping stone towards the same direction you are headed in, they are not a demarcation of your journey toward college. 


Ultimately, the only person that can really answer whether or not you should take an AP class is you. You know yourself and your capabilities better than anyone else. Challenge yourself, but don’t overdo it. Ask others for guidance, look at past students choices, but eventually you just have to decide for yourself if AP classes are right for you.