In Defense of AP

By , Bellevue, WA
When I came across Sophie W’s TeenInk article AP: Absolutely Preposterous, I mentally checking off the truth of her points: that the Advanced Placement (AP) system not only dilutes the quality of education presented to students but pressured overworked students in the ever competitive race to add substance to college applications. However while the faults of the AP tests are widespread, one should consider the upside in taking one or more AP classes, a benefit few have discussed with skeptics.

My experience with AP classes spanned from Studio Art to Comparative Government. Perhaps like many students, I felt pressured by college standards and peers to take the classes I did. However, looking back I find the positive to outweigh the negative. AP preps students for fast paced learning, similar to that of a college level class but in a high school setting. Though unknown to me as a high schooler, college classes included the material and test of the AP class but occur simultaneously with other equally challenging classes in a shorter period of time: approximately three months. If you had taken the same class in college, it may be in a class of 200 or more while in my high school, the classes never exceeded 35.

AP classes were challenging—but I counter those who declare that they made it through on memorizations alone. It is rewarding to struggle through difficulty; hardship makes for better adapted students. I remember the joy in finding a new love for American History, understanding world events in the United Kingdom and China as well as lesser known political shifts through Comparative Government and even furthering my art portfolio.

Academic classes foster high leveled conversations. Though Sophie stressed the lack of socializing in AP classes, I disagree. Student conversations deviated from TV shows and gossip to local news. The quality of conversation rose—an important skill in the real world. Additionally, the work load and all important AP test at the end of the year is a reality for any incoming college student. It is essential to respond to deadlines with planning. One of the lessons I have learned was about how to regulate studying to avoid burn out. While studying on about 70% is ok from day to day, you should be able to study to your best, such as the weeks before finals. No one is expected to study 24 hours a day at full intensity the entire year.

Last but not least: money. It may seem like an irrelevant topic to consider, given the time and effort, not to mention the cost of the test, in deciding whether to take a class. But it is an important factor to weigh in. Even instate, university cost are soaring. While an AP class is a hassle now, it may give you a buffer: allowing you to take a wider variety of classes when you have the basic credits taken care of. My credits allowed me to take the status of a sophomore at my university, saving me a years worth of education: approximately $9000 not including room and board.

Education is not perfect. Learning is more than coasting through easy classes or killing your desire for learning by packing up an AP loaded schedule. I advocate the middle road: taking something that may sound a little unappetizing (AP Chemistry anyone?) may be the road to discovering a new talent or passion.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

babygirlinthetardis said...
Oct. 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm
To me AP seems like it would be really good - but I'm in the UK, and my school wouldn't even dream of anything like that, except for in maths - I can do my AS in that. The only thing we have is a non existent G&T program, so even if the other AP article I read is true I still think I'd rather give it a shot then be stuck with what I'm doing at the minute. I spend way too much time incredibly bored while people muck about because they couldn't give a hoot.
SmArtistx24 said...
Oct. 1, 2010 at 6:53 am
i completely agree with your side of the article, i found AP: Absolutely Preposterous more humorous than correct. My schedule is currently, and litterally, only AP based. AP French, AP Chemistry, AP English 12, AP Calculus and i find that through these classes i'm actually getting a better understanding of the world and have a chance to play with subjects i enjoy at a pace that is catered to me. I learn quickly and the honors system doesn't move quick enough, unlike AP which is just perfect. The... (more »)
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