Are AP Classes Right For You?
Many of our students received their AP scores earlier this month. The College Board offers three dozen Advanced Placement courses and administers exams each May, and exam scores range from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Though not as many colleges grant college credit for top scores as they used to, the exams do demonstrate academic excellence at roughly the same level as a college-level course. Scores in the 3-5 zone boost applications; the most selective colleges love the 4s and 5s.
When is the right time to take APs, and how many APs are enough? That depends on the individual: we balance the level of rigor with the GPA potential for each student. Many top students will take an AP in 10th grade - often AP World History - then choose appropriate APs in both 11th and 12th grade. Like the SAT II Subject Tests, APs offer a common level of academic currency that colleges can use to compare competitive candidates.
There's a reason to take APs that transcends the college process. Top teachers receive special training for these classes, and students in AP sections are motivated and collaborative. I remember in my own teaching days having the privilege of teaching AP English and AP French, and I would attend writers' conferences and visit France in the summer to prep. In the classroom, my students reminded me of the varsity athletes on the sports teams I coached.
But APs aren't right for everyone. Overloading APs at the risk of lowering GPA makes for a tough schedule. What's most important is choosing a program where the student can thrive - with or without APs.