This is an honor that is useful but only if it is done right!
Every student knows about Advanced (AP) classes in high school. We've all heard the comment, "They are a lot of extra work but they will pay off for college."
Well, they are a LOT of extra work.
And, SOME classes CAN earn you college credit. But only if the college you attend accepts the test you took & the score you made.
And, AP classes sometimes have the better students & teachers.
But, what are all of these MAYBEs worth?
Why Take AP Classes?
If you are certain that the teacher is the best one, and you are certain that you will make an 'A' in the class, and you are certain that you will not become demotivated with all the busy work, then AP Classes are for you.
Otherwise, I would never opt for an AP course!
Why Take AP Exams?
Now that is a very different question. We've all heard the claim that, "If you want to get into the Ivy League other highly competitive universities, you must have multiple APs.on your high school transcript."
Blatantly not true! While AP is honors and honors does look good on a transcript, there are many easier ways to get the same honors on your high school record. AP is simple marketed better. 🤔
The real value of AP is the exam that is given each May in 38 different subjects. If you take the exam, and make a 3, 4, or 5, many colleges will give you some college credit for your effort. This saves you time and money in college. Plus, you still get high school credit for your AP exam.
But don't you need the class to pass the exam? Excellent question. At LeeWay Academy, all students take at least one AP Exam, usually starting in 9th grade. 80% of those students make a 3 or better. Half of those students make a 5. None of the students take an AP class.
How do we pass AP exams without AP classes? That's actually the really important part. You see, AP classes do not teach students how to think or how to test. They teach students how to hunker down and do huge volumes of work while ignoring the main thing that colleges really want ---- A GREAT EXTRACURRICULAR RESUME.
On the other hand, if you cut out the busy work and focus on engaged learning, that student will pass just about any text you put in front of them, even an AP Exam.
What about the GPA boost that AP can provide? The optimal word in that sentence is CAN. As I noted above, if you have a great teacher and don't mind the busywork and can for sure make an 'A' then AP classes can be very useful. Why? because they are consider 'honors' so when you make an 'A' you don't get the typical 4.0 gpa. You get up to 5.0 gpa! That is a real boost to your high school transcript. But if you don't get an 'A' then you just did a lot of work for nothing. Less work in a regular class would have produced a higher grade and you would have ended up with the same GPA without the stress.
The AP Scholar Awards
If you take 3 AP Exams (with or without a class) and make a 3 or better on those three AP Exams, then you will will an award called "AP Scholar" There are different levels of the award that depend on how many exams you take plus your scores on those exams. Being able to list the AP Scholar Award on a college application looks good. There are much more important honors to have on your record but for a good tester, AP Scholar is an easy one to earn.
AP Award Levels:
Scholar – This is awarded to students who score 3 or more on at least three AP exams.
Scholar with Honor – This is awarded to students who have averaged a minimum of 3.25 on the AP exams they take and score 3 or more on at least four of those exams.
Scholar with Distinction – This is awarded to students who average a minimum of 3.5 on all their AP exams and score 3 or more on at least five of these exams.
State Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student in each state. The student must have a score of 3 or more on the highest number of AP exams, as well as the highest average score on all the exams they take.
National Scholar – This is awarded to students who average at least a score of 4 in all the AP exams they take and score 4 or more in at least 8 of these exams.
DoDEA Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student attending one of the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. Whoever has the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams among all the students in the school receives this award. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
International Scholar – This is awarded to one male and female student attending a school outside the United States or Canada with the greatest average score on the highest number of AP exams. A minimum score of 3 is mandatory.
Seminar and Research Certificate – This is awarded to students who score 3 or more in both AP Research and AP Seminar.
Capstone Diploma – This is awarded to students who get a score of 3 or more in AP Research and AP Seminar and any four additional AP exams of their choice.
The easiest way to win AP Scholar is to try one AP Exam in 9th grade. It should be in a subject that you feel confident in such as Human Geography or Psychology. If that one goes well, then plan to take one more in 10th and another in 11th. If you get a 3 or better each year then you will earn a lovely award for minimum effort while saving all that classroom time for something that really matters like boosting your resume with service, leadership, and awards.