Are AP Classes Worthwhile?
For students trying to determine whether to sit for AP exams this spring or to sign up for AP classes, there are clear advantages to going the extra mile and taking the more challenging road.
The biggest benefit is saving thousands of dollars and dozens of hours by not taking introductory-level college classes. The number of college credits you accrue depends on the number of AP classes you take, how high your scores are and what college you are attending.
The maximum AP test score is a five. Some colleges might require a five to receive credit for a calculus class, but others might only require a four or three to receive credit. You can find a college’s credit policy here.
Taking a few AP classes provides a significant jumpstart to college. For example, a student who took four AP tests and received a four on each could earn 23 credits when they arrive on campus, saving almost $8,000 in tuition.
Another bonus to AP classes? Taking one will let a college admissions office know you’re ready for the rigor of college. In addition to admissions, about a third of colleges consider a student’s AP classes when awarding scholarships, according to the College Board.
But students should choose AP classes wisely. Besides being stretched too thin with more difficult coursework, colleges prefer students to excel at a few classes rather than just scrape by with many, says David Hawkins, Executive Director for Educational Content and Policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling.
“Colleges would generally rather see students pursue college-level courses like Advanced Placement in subjects where the student might have a passion or career interest,” he said. “As it stands in 2017, colleges are mindful that there are students who attempt to overload themselves with AP classes to get ahead in the selective admission game.”
AP classes are offered in a wide range of subjects like calculus, Latin, biology, art history, 3-D design and psychology. A complete list is on the College Board’s website.
If you see a test relevant to your intended major, but your high school does not offer the exam, you may possibly take the test at a nearby school. To find out what tests are available at other schools, contact AP Services by March 1 to get the names of local AP coordinators, then contact them by March 15.