AP Classes: Worth It? MAG

By Rachel G., Los Alamitos, CA

     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.



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This article has 79 comments.


on Nov. 12 at 2:57 pm
Dani_Higareda GOLD, Hanahan, South Carolina
17 articles 0 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." -G.Washington Carver

I totally agree with you! AP classes only add more pressure to us, instead of helping us get into college and receiving college credits. I have AP classes right now and have tons of homework to do. We also take tests about every week after very fast-paced lessons. The education system should be improved so that we are not pressured as much. Great job on the article!

i love this !

on Oct. 26 2016 at 8:05 am
MomoTheLemur BRONZE, Burlington City, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 9 comments
*insert clapping here*

on Oct. 4 2016 at 6:59 pm
TheShakespeareSpeaker GOLD, Durham, New Hampshire
12 articles 17 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I can sum up everything I have learned about life in three words: It goes on."
-Robert Frost

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...
on 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 of the AP students I know have always been in advanced groups, some even skipping a grade. they knew the concepts taught before going into the class, and the class merely hammered in and expanded the concept. Taking a AP class does not make you special or interesting, and the only colleges that actually look for AP students are Ivy league schools. regular state colleges are looking for how well you did in the class, no matter what class it is. so taking an AP class and getting a C looks the same as taking a regular class and getting a C. Sure some schools give boosts to GPA of those with AP classes, but only if you High grades. My schools valedictorian took no AP classes, just the regular ones. Honestly there is no reason to put yourself through torturous stress. And if the regular classes are too slow and boring, you might just be in the wrong school. Not all schools teach at the same level of understanding, My school is the top of the state, i transfered schools in the same state due to moving, and the next school i went to was slow, boring and too easy, i ended up switching back to my previous school, and just dealing with the hour drive it took me to get there. My point being, dont just assume AP classes are whats best because it sounds fancy. Every one is different and what was good for you older sibling or friend, may not be good for you.

on Feb. 5 2016 at 9:20 pm
juliacoccaro SILVER, Spanish Fort, Alabama
5 articles 0 photos 18 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'd sell you to Satan for one corn chip."

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 with 2 less classes and an opportunity to make money, I won't be as stressed.

on Dec. 28 2015 at 10:20 am
StellaDPloom SILVER, Hudson, New Hampshire
6 articles 0 photos 71 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."
~Stephen King

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 fellow classmates were floundering because they did not have such a strong background. Although I still had to take chemistry, the knowledge I learned in AP gave me a significantly better edge than the several hundred other students in my lecture.

Rynn750 SILVER said...
on Dec. 23 2015 at 9:05 am
Rynn750 SILVER, Somewhere, Wisconsin
5 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A cynical young person is almost the saddest sight to see, because it means that he or she has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing." - Maya Angelou

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.

on Jul. 22 2015 at 1:53 pm
ScienceSpirit GOLD, Newtown, Pennsylvania
14 articles 1 photo 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact." ~William James

The difference, I think, would be that the teachers wouldn't care about the "gold star." That way, everyone's achievement-centered attitude is softened.

M.G.H BRONZE said...
on Apr. 29 2015 at 6:31 pm
M.G.H BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3 articles 1 photo 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope is the only thing stronger than fear"

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

J.N.K. BRONZE said...
on Apr. 29 2015 at 2:47 pm
J.N.K. BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4 articles 5 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
-Morpheus from The Matrix

There are only like 550 students at our school.... What are you talking about.

M.G.H BRONZE said...
on Apr. 25 2015 at 7:03 pm
M.G.H BRONZE, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
3 articles 1 photo 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Hope is the only thing stronger than fear"

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 more than have the seniors in the computer classes at my school know I am one of 5 ninth graders and two 8th graders how took on this challenge to take this exam with 2 seniors who have the class. It's difficult my average hours if sleep at night is 3. That's not healthy. They are so difficult to prepare for. It's crazy

on Apr. 21 2015 at 2:47 pm
I LIKE APPS

Forever SILVER said...
on Mar. 4 2015 at 10:14 pm
Forever SILVER, Flint, Michigan
8 articles 0 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
"A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances."
B.F. Skinner

I totally agree and A.P. classes allow you to get, honestly, a better, more informative education

on Jan. 27 2015 at 12:36 am
CaseyChickenWang SILVER, McDonough,
7 articles 2 photos 89 comments

Favorite Quote:
"No one likes half-jinglers! Jingle all the way!" - Shelley McNeight
"You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." - GSUMUN

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

on Dec. 26 2014 at 11:25 pm
Richcoca PLATINUM, Canoga Park, California
44 articles 5 photos 71 comments

Favorite Quote:
Make as many as mistakes as you want, just don't make the same mistake.

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.

on Dec. 15 2014 at 9:52 am
QureyannaWrites BRONZE, South Bend, Indiana
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
if this was my forever I would not want to spend it.
-Sarah Dessen

Fantastic work. keep it up!

on Oct. 17 2014 at 9:17 pm
GwennyBird17 BRONZE, Southampton, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
Shoot for the Moon even if you miss you will land amongst the stars!

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...
on Sep. 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...
on Sep. 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.


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