The month of May brings tulip blooms, countdowns to the end of school…oh, and AP exams. Should you take an AP exam? Can an AP class really help me out for college?
The College Board began the Advanced Placement (AP) course program to give high school students the opportunity to experience college-level coursework in high school. The courses cover a broad range of topics – English (Literature, Rhetoric, Writing), Social Sciences (U.S. History, World History, Psychology, Economics), Mathematics (Calculus, Statistics), Natural Sciences (Chemistry, Biology, Physics), Fine Art and Foreign Language. All of the courses have approved texts and detailed syllabi of standards, and the end-of-course exam is the same all over the world. Teachers must become certified to teach a particular AP class.
AP classes operate in some ways like freshman college classes. The material mirrors what a student would see in a freshman college class, but instead of attending two or three times a week, students usually get more time in class with the teacher in high school. Also, most of the courses would last one semester in college but are spread over a full year in high school. As a result, high school students get the benefit of college-level content with less of the stress – a more gradual introduction to the college academic experience.
In addition to the advantage of helping high school students transition more easily to college courses, AP classes give students the chance to accrue college credit. A student who scores a 4 or 5 on the AP exam usually will receive credit for the class at the college the student ultimately attends. An enterprising student who takes five or more AP classes in high school will shave at least one semester off of college – reducing the time to graduate or freeing up space to take more advanced classes or add a major or minor. Also, the cost of the AP exam is far below the cost of a three or four credit semester class in college.
AP exams tend to cover a broad range of material but not at as great a depth. They always consist of objective questions (multiple choice) and free response (show-your-work or essays of varying length). Doing well on the exam takes more than doing well in the class – you must really prepare for the actual exam, understand its format, content and time constraints.
At Mackler, we have been preparing students for AP exams for over 30 years, and we consistently have students score 4’s and 5’s on a whole range of subjects. If you would like help on AP exams, contact us – we can help.
Above all, we hope you will take advantage of the AP courses at your school. Even one or two classes before you graduate will help ease the transition to college – statistically, students who take at least two classes do markedly better in their freshman year in college!