Pros and cons of AP classes

College Boy, FreeDigitalPhotos.net15,000 high schools worldwide (about 60% of U.S. high schools) offer Advanced Placement or AP classes. There are more than 35 different AP courses in 22 subject areas — from Chemistry and Biology, to Calculus and Statistics, to United States Government & Politics.

This summer, as high school students review their class schedule selections for fall, the question of adding AP classes is one that invariably crops up. But, what are the real benefits to taking on these extremely challenging classes?

  • Building a strong resume. According to the College Board, “Deciding to take an AP course lets colleges and universities know that you have what it takes to succeed in an undergraduate environment. When admissions officers see “AP” on your transcript, they know that what you experienced in a particular class has prepared you well for the challenges of college.”
  • Placing out of introductory classes. By taking an AP courses (and earning a qualifying scores on the AP Exam) students avoid required introductory courses.
  • Building college skills. Taking an AP course builds the skills needed throughout the college years including handling a rigorous work load, improving time management, and polishing study skills.

Taking the AP exam without taking the class

It’s a little known fact, but it’s possible to take an AP test without taking the class. If students are home-schooled or if their school doesn’t offer a particular AP class, they can still arrange to take an exam. And, they still earn credit if they get a qualifying score on the exam.

AP classes are free, but it costs $84 to take an exam. For low-income students, the fee is usually reduced or entirely paid for through state and federal funds or assistance from the College Board.

Will taking APs really save on college expenses?

Nationwide, most colleges and universities offer college credit for qualifying AP Exam scores. It is crucial, however, to check the specific requirements by college, since acceptance of AP exams can vary widely. For example, Columbia University requires a minimum score of a 5 in Biology to earn credit. Duke University, however, will accept a score of a 4 or above. To review specific colleges’ guidelines on accepting AP scores for credit and placement, use the College Board’s AP Credit Policy database.

And, these credits ultimately may not save tuition dollars. Colleges require full-time students to pay by the semester, not by the course. AP credits can reduce the workload when facing a challenging semester, studying abroad, or pursuing research or an internship. But, they won’t reduce financial obligations, unless a student has enough credits to skip an entire semester of college.

Skipping the APs entirely

According to Abigail Simkus of the Main Line Times, “Ironically, some of the most selective colleges in the country, including the Ivies, don’t award AP credit, even though their applicants tend to take the most AP classes and score the highest. Instead, they allow students to place out of introductory classes or core requirements if they score high enough on a corresponding AP exam. In rare instances, a student who’s earned 5’s in enough designated core classes may pursue “advanced standing” and graduate in three or three and a half years.”

Preparing for AP classes and AP exams in Wilmington, Delaware

In order to maximize the effectiveness of taking AP classes, a high score on the AP exam is crucial. In Delaware, Back to Basics Learning Dynamics offers 1-on-1 tutoring and exam prep for APs. A completely customized approach focuses on those specific areas needed by each student. Students will strengthen their knowledge, reduce anxiety, and build confidence every step of the way. They will learn strategies specific to the tests, timing techniques and have the opportunity to take and review practice tests.

Back to Basics Learning Dynamics is the undisputed leader in 1-on-1 tutoring in Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania for over 60 subjects.

The company also offers 1-on-1 instruction for the SAT, ACT and Test Prep, translating and interpreting in 16+ languages, educational testing and more. For more information about Back to Basics’ educational services, please call us at 302-594-0754.

The company also operates a unique Department of Education-approved 1-on-1 K-12 Private School in Wilmington, Delaware. For more information about Delaware’s only Department of Education approved 1-on-1 private school, please call us at 302-594-0685.

Photo Credit: stockimages and FreeDigitaPhotos.net.

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