In early spring some AP students begin to prepare for the College Board tests that they have been studying for over the past eight months.
AP classes, also known as advanced placement classes, are courses created to be more difficult and cover material in greater depth than standard classes. In May, students in AP classes have the option of taking a national test that can give them free or reduced college credit in that course if they pass.
AP classes are a controversial issue among the student body. Some students feel that they can help them prepare for the future while others believe they hold them back. Junior Shaniece Coultas is strongly in favor of AP classes.
Coultas said, “I’m glad I took AP classes, regular classes are boring.” In regard to other students she said, “If students have the discipline to work, they should sign up.”
Other students, like junior Ty Ferguson, feel that students are better off sticking to standard classes. “There are a lot of drawbacks to AP classes. They’re stressful and don’t meet the needs of most students.” Ferguson said.
Still other students take a more situational approach to the subject, like junior Casper Smithlin. She “heard the classes are difficult and a lot of work.” But Smithlin believes AP classes can be worthwhile, “If you can handle them, thats awesome. They look great on college applications.”
Teachers also think that AP classes can be beneficial. AP United States History teacher, Mr.Bender, said, “AP classes can help students by giving them a challenge. Many students find that standard classes are too easy.” Bender has found that AP classes have had a positive effect on him as well, “They’re faster and more challenging to teach.”
Even with the indecision some people feel about AP classes , their popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years. According to the College Board’s website, in 2013 33.2% of high school students took at least one AP exam compared to 18.9% ten years earlier .
While showing increased participation, students are also showing higher scores. The tests are graded on a bell curve, so only half of the students who take a test will pass with a three, four or five. College Board’s website said “Since 2003, there has been a 7.9 point increase in the percentage of U.S. public school graduates scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam, with 17 exceeding the national average for this percentage change.” This increase is likely due to the implementation of more AP classes into more schools.
Bender said that the best way to become one of the students scoring above a three on an AP test is, “Find a study plan that works for them and stick to it.”
If students are willing to put in the work and time then AP classes may be a valuable resource during their high school career.