AP Classes: Worth It? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     You see them in the halls, in a daze, stumbling toward their classes. Their faces are ashen with fatigue; their spines are bent under the weight of a dozen textbooks. They are the ones struggling valiantly to stifle a yawn during class, the ones frantically rereading their notes before an exam on the nature of light photons during photosynthesis.

They are the few, the chosen. They are the AP students.

The truth is, honors students are no longer a select few. Over half of university-bound students take AP classes, and of these, most take at least two. The AP system drills into our brains that our college success hinges on taking as many advanced courses as possible, but is it really worth it? “On average, I spend three to four hours each day on homework,” says one senior, who is taking five AP classes. “With the number I’m taking, I really doubt that I will be confident going into each test.”

With increasing pressure to enroll in AP courses, not only for college credit but also for the weighted GPA, it is no wonder that students often find their grades suffering and their stress levels soaring. In reality, AP courses have become mere trophies, adding little more than volume and sparkle to a competitive college application.

One of the major flaws in the AP system is that every class is geared toward a standardized test. The result is that comprehensive learning is sacrificed for the sake of test preparation, with teachers spending the most time on topics likely to appear on the AP exam.

“It feels like sometimes we rush through material or ignore parts of the subject,” says one senior. “It would be nice to sit back and learn for the sake of learning, not just to get a five on the test in May.”

And just because a student receives a high grade on the AP test does not mean he or she will receive college credit. Many universities now don’t consider an AP class in high school to be synonymous with an actual undergraduate college-level class, which is usually a three-hour, lecture-based course with varying degrees of homework.

According to another AP student, “the sheer volume of learning” is what makes the workload so challenging. It is simply not feasible to absorb an entire college class in less than an hour a day, with all the other classes and responsibilities.

For those who wish to delve further into a particular subject, college-level classes may be a fantastic idea. But the current AP course system is flawed and too test-intensive to provide students with an optimum learning environment. Perhaps more high schools should consider offering their students the opportunity to take actual college courses through a local university.

Or maybe we should all just go to college.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
today at 1:30 am
i love this !
Naziboiiiiiiiii said...
Oct. 26, 2016 at 8:05 am
*insert clapping here*
TheShakespeareSpeaker said...
Oct. 4, 2016 at 6:59 pm
Great job! I was shocked halfway through the article when I remembered I was on Teen Ink and not the New York Times website or another prestigious newspaper.
Justagirl said...
Mar. 31, 2016 at 7:35 pm
When considering taking AP class or classes, everyone should take into account how they learn and the speed at which they learn. for example it takes me longer and more practice to understand a concept in math than it does in English. Just because you learn at a slower pace dose not make you stupid, in fact it makes you pretty normal. AP classes are fast paced, they do not wait for you to understand, they assume that their lectures are understood without further explanation or exploration. Most ... (more »)
juliacoccaro This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 5, 2016 at 9:20 pm
We aren't offered AP courses until junior and senior year. I'm a sophomore and just finished completing my course selection sheet for next year. I chose AP Chemistry, Precalculus (there's no AP for that, Precal itself is the same level of difficulty as any other AP), AP US History II and AP English. We have 4 electives as well, so I'm doing Co-Op and will use 2 of those electives to work at Walgreens or whatever job I can find that (hopefully) pays a bit more than minimum wage. I'm hoping that w... (more »)
StellaDPloom said...
Dec. 28, 2015 at 10:20 am
While I agree that AP classes can become an unnecessary burden, the truth is that if you're prepared then you can gain a lot from these courses. I took 7 AP courses in high school, one of which was AP Chemistry. I entered college this past fall with 37 credits (which classified me as a sophomore) and completed my general chemistry course, one of the most difficult freshman courses, easily because I already had a strong foundation in both the lab and the concepts while many of my friends and fell... (more »)
M.G.H said...
Apr. 25, 2015 at 7:03 pm
I am in 9th grade, I know the AP course overload. I am taking one of the exams in May, I do not have the class in school I am taking it on my free time with a teacher and it is really tough. At my school every grade matters in 9th grade it takes everything out of me every day to just get everything I need done to maintain a 4.0 and keep up with an AP course. Out of the 1000 kids in my school I am one of 9 taking the exam. It's the AP computer science exam and the material is difficult I know mor... (more »)
JackieKuhn replied...
Apr. 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm
There are only like 550 students at our school.... What are you talking about.
M.G.H replied...
Apr. 29, 2015 at 6:31 pm
That was last year, this year they had to add about 1 class per grade because the school could fit more students. So it's more like 700-800
Apr. 21, 2015 at 2:47 pm
CaseyChickenWang This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 27, 2015 at 12:36 am
I totally agree with you- AP classes are way overrated. But the main reason, really, students want to torture themselves with AP classes is because the boost in the GPA that results. That GPA boost is enough incentive for those fatigued students to burden themselves with more
Rynn750 replied...
Dec. 23, 2015 at 9:05 am
At my school, we don't do weighted GPA or class rank, so it's impossible to get a 4.0 and when you lose it, there's no getting it back.
DietCokeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 26, 2014 at 11:25 pm
Based on your opinion, I can agree and see what you mean. In our modern education system, the college board has created a tainted system. Taking AP classes can be compared to collecting trophies, however its the opportunities these classes supply, that really make it worth it. I'm currently taking AP environmental science and I find it incredibly easy but what really makes it worth the while is the field work.
QureyannaWrites said...
Dec. 15, 2014 at 9:52 am
Fantastic work. keep it up!
GwennyBird17This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm
AP Classes can be somewhat challenging.  It depends on how much material they are teaching in one class period.  I do know some people who are currently enrolled in AP classes and some of them say its easy, while others say its challenging.  It depends because your teacher will tell you if your grade is good enough to be enrolled in an AP class.  Great job on the article :) Keep on writing!
Dazeee said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm
I think it's good to have AP classes for collage , but I feel like it would be really hard to keep up with your homework because of how much they give you and some people just give up and don't care anymore
Mexiflash said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm
Everything stated in this article is true! In the end, AP classes hurt ones grade even when one works extremely hard for an A. I don't think AP classes are worth the struggle.
Poppaagrande said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm
That's true, my AP score didn't give me college credit..
Caitibug said...
Apr. 23, 2014 at 7:37 pm
I completely agree with your opinion on AP classes. I don't have any  AP classes currently, but I know people who do have them, and they are the people who are the most stressed out. I feel sorry for them. Great job on your article!
izzy_0314 said...
Mar. 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm
I completely agree with this article. I'm going to be a freshman next year and will be taking an AP English class as well as an extremely advanced math class for my age. I have been so stressed about ending my school year strong as well as preparing for the incoming year. This is accurate to the highest degree and its nice to see that I'm not the only one who believes that there is a lot pressure involved in school. There are pros and cons to AP classes as well as other advances courses,... (more »)
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