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

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     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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wishingtheskywasbluerThis 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...
Oct. 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm:
this was a really well written article - really good point!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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MaureenBartlett22 said...
Aug. 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm:
I think that to get the credit loans from banks you must have a great motivation. Nevertheless, one time I've got a short term loan, because I wanted to buy a bike.
 
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er2014 said...
Apr. 3, 2012 at 8:58 am:
i dont agree with the less homework learn more 
 
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KingKenManSon said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 11:19 am:

wow thats really intresting

 

 
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GirlInTheBeanie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm:
i feel like i'm seeing that in just a lot of classes-- AP and not AP. it's like everything at school is just focused on getting good standardized test grades and not being smart-- because being smart is totally different than being educated :P
 
Blairezie replied...
Jan. 2, 2012 at 7:14 pm :
I agree 100% with this post.
 
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savetheplanet said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm:
Hmm, I appreciate your article but I have to disagree.  While AP classes have become the standard for college bound students, that doesn't mean they're not worth it.  I go to a very highly regarded high school, and all of our teachers are excellent who deliberately avoid teaching to the AP test.  We learn in a very student friendly environment that is geared toward pure intellectual advancement.  And regardless of wether the class is counted for college credit or not, why not... (more »)
 
SpyceChik replied...
Jan. 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm :
You have a point there but the fact of the matter is that not every school is like your school. I'm sure there are many schools which adopt the approach that your school does but there are also many other schools do not. For those schools I think that the essence of AP classes is lost since 'comprehensive learning' doesn't really take place.
 
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Regan P. said...
Jul. 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm:
OR, we could all take IB courses that focuse more on application and depth in subject areas (;
 
jaymishae replied...
Aug. 23, 2011 at 6:11 pm :
 must admit, all of my friends are taking AP classes this year except for me and they always have more homework then me so while i get to goof off they are working. And the funny thing is that I've learned more then they have so far.
 
SKinGZ replied...
Oct. 27, 2011 at 6:22 am :
You make an excellent point that more homework does not mean you're learning more. Read widely, have time for volunteering or other activities. Let high school be high school.
 
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EllaPotter said...
Jul. 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm:
very insightful and well-writen.
 
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nascar48jj said...
Jun. 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm:
As I am about to take a AP Euro class as a sophomore next year, I can see your point in this article. But in a school that has 800 kids in a graduating class, taking AP classes really gives you a boost above a majority of your class. Basically all the colleges in the state take the AP scores, and they are looked highly upon when applying to colleges. Most kids who take the AP classes, and do well end up in the top 50 in the class, with many free rides, and scholarship offers.
 
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Curly_Sue said...
Jun. 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm:
As an AP student i have to agree with everything you said. There is too much presure put on the "benifits" of taking AP classes, the work load is unthinkable, and the rewards are unseen. You never truly get to learn anything.  It's a little thing called "regergitating the facts".
 
james replied...
Apr. 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm :
Regurgitating is the word.
 
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Venus18 said...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm:
This article has some good points, however if you decide to take AP you should realize that some colleges don't accept AP scores. To me, someone who's planning to take AP US, AP english and AP chemistry next year and AP European history, AP bio and AP Psych senior year, part of my college selection will depend on if a college accepts AP scores. I think AP is a great thing for students ready for a higher level of course work.
 
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gpnukem said...
May 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm:
I'd agree with most of what you said.  In my opinion, the biggest flaw in the AP system is that because students are so pressured to take AP classes, teachers end up dumbing down the material.  Lots of students just Dual-Enroll, so it doesn't matter if they can't perform on the AP test.  Ideally, this would be a good thing because it should allow the teacher to teach with the primary goal being learning rather than passing a test.  Instead, it means that as long as the teache... (more »)
 
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SydnieMcC said...
May 27, 2011 at 7:11 am:

Interesting piece. I know that my school adds a new scale for taking AP classes. Instead of a 4.0 you have a 5.0.

But the work isn't too hard. At my school, ten seionrs graduated valedictorian because of their perfect 5.0 GPA (which means they never took a single regular core class throughout high school) and all got free-rides to whatever school they wanted. The work can obviously be done, the question is just do you want to do all of it. In such a competetive world with colleges you ... (more »)

 
TheInnocentOne replied...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 12:03 am :

Right.

And you say, "10 seniors graduated valedictorian."

Not all of us can take that amount of work and do it all year round. That takes an insane amount of skill.

 

 
TheInnocentOne replied...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 12:04 am :

More like stamina.

Not skill

 
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