Pros and Cons of AP Classes


Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Kevin Rohman

AP classes: Sometimes they are a chance for upperclassmen to explore new subjects and test their knowledge. Other times, they are taken simply for the sake of college applications.
During junior and senior year, AP classes will likely be the most difficult part of any schedule. The course material, workload, and final exams for these classes can be grueling to some, causing many to question what purpose they serve. Fortunately however, this is often outweighed by the economic and academic benefits for the student.
One of the most crucial roles of AP classes, and the reason why students should consider taking APs, even in areas they have no interest in, is their role as a substitute for college classes.
“The AP classes prepare kids for college level work,” guidance counselor Catherine Hoffman said. “Many of my kids sign up for them because they think it looks good to colleges, when in reality they don’t realize there is an additional benefit, which is that they are actually learning the skills they need.”
Other than preparing students academically, AP classes mostly serve as preparation for AP tests. AP tests can actually be taken without first taking a class, similar to a standardized test, but most agree that doing so is ill-advised. However, regardless of how a student prepares for the test, if they pass it, it may count as college credit, depending on their score.
“If you a score a 3, 4 or 5, you have basically passed the test, though the majority of schools are looking for 4s or 5s,” Hoffman said. “We have students that go to college with 18 credits. You can graduate half a semester early, even a year early with enough AP credits. Think how much money you save going to college with those credits.”
Of course, much like any advanced class, there is no point in taking an AP class or test and failing it. If it really does seem like too much of a challenge, or if the subject is entirely foreign to you, it would be better to take an accelerated class or elective instead. For many students however, enough hard work and concentration can be enough to make it through the difficulty, which is certainly worth the effort.
To any considering taking an AP next year, or doubting whether to try for more, know that APs are more than just a box to check. They can be very difficult it’s true, but may also save thousands of dollars for students, and prepare them for college.