Advanced Placement

Published Tuesday, May 10, 2011 by Tarang

Pirates of the Caribbean

The school year is nearing its end for you high-schoolers, and you must be busier than ever. Upperclassmen fret over AP tests and SATs, but it’s not all serious. Junior Prom and Senior Ball are around the corner if not already past, and many students are planning pleasantly hectic summer vacations. Some of you will be chilling in Tortuga like Jack Sparrow while others will be taking fun summer courses in esoteric realms. Others will be vying for spots at competitive summer programs. And as the weight of school becomes heavier than ever, you start to think why? What is so important about these seemingly random dichotomies of high school such as AP and non-AP? Is stressing out over AP, Honors, and non-Honors even worth it?

The answer is yes. AP classes actually do matter. While you may not like them at this very moment, they will actually help you. College Board is like Langley; it works in mysterious ways to help people. Standardized tests actually help colleges find a fair criteria for judging students from all across the nation. Rather than administering tests themselves, colleges would rather have a third party organization handle the tests to eliminate bias. College Board wants to make sure you understand that their work with AP tests is important:

http://www.collegeboard.com/about/news_info/ap/courseledger/program.html

As evidenced by research, students who take AP courses and do well tend to do better in second year college courses. This was especially evident in science and math courses. I can fully believe this research having been through college myself. I took AP Calculus BC, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics B. I found all the tests to be very helpful at UC Berkeley, often allowing me to be ahead of the class because I had already learned much of the material. I was not the only one; most of my friends who had taken science AP courses felt the same way. In fact, AP tests were found to be such strong predictors of college success that schools value them heavily in admissions (sometimes as much as the overall GPA). Taking more AP courses and getting a 3 or above helps a great deal in college admissions and has also shown to help college freshman get high grades (research has been done by the University of California).

Also there has been an increase in students from low-income backgrounds and underrepresented minorities enrolling in AP courses. AP courses are becoming more accessible and evening out the playing field. This has led to an even greater weight given to AP courses.

Overall, AP courses actually benefit you for admissions and beyond. Your individual scores may not have a great impact, but taking more AP courses improves your GPA as well as trains you to better survive college. Take your AP tests sincerely because this is one of those times in life you know that this test actually matters.


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