To AP or not to AP?

An examination of the pros and cons of taking AP classes


Henry Abercrombie

As a senior at Cathedral Prep, I have taken my fair share of AP classes. While the AP credits that you may earn are a nice benefits, there are some disadvantages to taking an AP class.

My first concern is that—if you choose to take the AP test—you will have to pay a fee, regardless of whether you pass that test or not. Additionally, some schools will only accept certain AP scores, and others still will not accept AP credits whatsoever. Most local universities will accept a three or higher as a passing score. However, some will require a four, and a few schools, mostly Ivy League, will not even accept a 5. The main factor in taking an AP class, then, would be to consider what kind of school you wish to attend, and if they accept AP scores.

In 2022, the AP Biology test had scattered results: 10.5% of students received a one, 21.7% had a two, 29.9% with a three, 23.1% with a four, and only 14.8% obtained a five. Already, about 62 percent of students who paid for that class may not even get credit for the school that they wished to attend, if that school requires a four. Keep in mind that some AP exams are particularly brutal, with even less students scoring a three, four, or five. This begs the question if the AP exams are worth the money. If you can pass it for the school you want, absolutely. The fee is about 100 dollars, but the credits earned could potentially save you thousands of dollars on college classes. If you rack up enough AP credits, you may actually be able to skip your freshman year of college. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide the value of these AP classes.

A final factor to consider when deciding upon AP classes is the workload of each class. Most AP classes have a relatively fast-paced work environment, and you must be able to keep up with the curriculum, as there is limited time to learn before the AP test rolls around. I say this not to discourage you from taking these classes, but to remind you to be mindful of how much time you have. In fact, I recommend that you set time aside for any extra assistance that you may need from the teacher. The teacher of each AP class is your best friend—you must be willing to ask for help as needed, as each teacher that I have met is absolutely driven to help their students score the best score possible. I would also recommend that you make connections with your fellow classmates. Study and prepare for tests together—work as a team, and you will find that the class in question becomes much easier to handle.

Your future is up to you. I would not persuade or dissuade you from taking AP classes and tests, but I will say that I have found great success in my AP classes by adhering to these rules. The decision is yours—to AP, or not to AP?