Should I Take AP Classes and Tests?

As a college counselor, I’m often asked about AP coursework and exams. “When can I start taking AP courses? How many should I take? Is it better to get a lower grade in an AP class, or should I take the regular class to protect my GPA?”

Thinking about whether to take challenging AP coursework is a big decision during high school. These courses are rigorous but offer a chance to earn college credit early on. Knowing the pros and cons can help students decide what’s best for their high school and college plans.

Why Think About AP Courses?

  1. Get College Credit Early: One of the main perks of AP classes is the chance to earn college credit. If students score well on the AP exam, they might skip some college general education classes, which can save time and money.
  2. Boost College Applications: Colleges like seeing AP classes on high school transcripts because they show that the student can handle college-level work. Doing well in AP classes can strengthen a student’s application for college admissions.
  3. Prep for College-Level Work: AP classes give students a taste of what college classes are like. The classes help them develop skills like time management, thinking critically, and studying effectively.
  4. Save Time and Money: Students might skip basic college classes by earning college credit through AP exams. This means they could start taking upper-division classes sooner or graduate early, saving on tuition.

Things to Think About Before Signing Up

While AP classes have lots of benefits, they’re not for everyone. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Student’s Strengths and Interests: Students should select courses in AP subjects that they’re confident in and enjoy. This will help them handle the challenges of AP coursework.
  2. Student’s Schedule: Be careful! Students should overload themselves with AP classes if they have many other commitments like sports, part-time work, family responsibilities, or clubs. Balance is important for staying healthy and avoiding burnout.
  3. The Difficulty of the Courses: AP classes are tough. Students need to make sure they’re ready for the challenge by checking out course descriptions and talking to their teachers or counselors.

Are AP Classes Worth It?

Whether to take AP classes depends on individual student goals, workload, and college plans. They’re a great opportunity if students are up for the challenge, want to strengthen their academic profile, and want to get a head start on their college education. For students aiming high in their academic journey, AP classes can be a valuable part of high school life. By thinking carefully and preparing for what’s ahead, students can make the most of the opportunities AP courses offer.


“Sylvia is a phenomenal college counselor. She is patient, kind, organized, and extremely knowledgeable about the college application process." - Susie

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