AP Courses: A Student’s Guide
Advanced Placement (AP) courses allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. Students who are eager to be pushed academically and prepare for college benefit the most from taking AP courses. But AP classes are not for everyone. They are rigorous and require many additional hours spent studying than do non-AP courses.
Where to take AP courses. Most high schools offer a wide range of AP courses. For students interested in taking a course that is not offered at their high school, they can likely take the course at the nearest community college. You can also create an academic tutoring package to prepare specifically for the AP Exam.
Considerations before enrolling. Students taking AP classes for the first time may find the coursework exceedingly difficult and their grade point averages could suffer. To minimize the chances of doing poorly, it is advisable that students enroll in AP classes only if they are passionate about the subject material. AP classes are optional and should only be taken by self-motivated students. If you find you are struggling with an AP class, this is a good time to look into academic tutoring.
Benefits. AP courses allow students to improve on skills that are most likely already advanced. These courses are more intensive and taught at a quicker pace, presenting students with the challenge of staying focused. This increased pressure can force students to acquire better time management skills in addition to the skills actually taught during the course. These new skills are invaluable in helping to prepare students for the rigors of college academics.
Final exams. At the end of an AP class, students have the option of taking the AP exam for that subject. All AP students around the country take the same tests at the same time in designated testing centers. The test scores range from 1 to a 5. A score of 3 indicates the middle performance range, while a score of 5 is the highest possible score. To get college credit for AP classes, students must receive a score of at least 3 out of 5 points. Most but not all colleges accept AP credit, while some only count AP credits as electives. Even if students feel unprepared for the exam, the three-hour test is great practice and should be taken. Scoring well is important because it allows students to skip intro classes during the first year of college. A low score is not going to prevent students from receiving admission into a particular school; in fact, schools will not even see these scores. Students should think of these exams as a great opportunity to be tested on material that will not affect class rank, GPA, or grade for a particular high school class.
AP classes can be a great way to jumpstart a college career. Not only can the classes make high school more interesting, but they can help save money in the future. Students with AP credits will be able to skip the required courses that they tested out of, freeing up time to pursue courses in their major, or even graduate early!
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