By Jackie Fletcher, Features Editor
Step into the hallways of more than 150,000 educational institutions around the world and you will find motivated students studying and discussing college-level topics within the accessible walls of his or her high school.
These conversations are facilitated by the national Advanced Placement (AP) program established by the College Board, which administers exams for particular subjects in May. These exams are redeemable by certain universities for credit or placement into higher level classes; however, these courses tend to attract criticism from some who claim that teachers are teaching to a test rather than to the subject, creating a more stressful and difficult classroom environment. Despite the critiques AP coursework has drawn, it is in the best interest of every student to comfortably enroll in these classes if his or her school provides them.
There are over 35 different AP courses a student can register for – ranging from classes in the sciences to the arts, and even in computer science and economics. Each curriculum is designed to mimic that of an entry-level college class in scope and in workload. The exams not only rely on multiple choice-based questioning, but they allow students to showcase their critical-thinking skills through short answer and essay questions. Foreign language courses additionally require two speaking samples to demonstrate mastery of the subject. If students are seeking to be challenged, AP courses provide that opportunity.
Furthermore, the year-long exposure to interesting topics expands upon what is offered in a typical honors class and explores the topics in a more critical way. The detailed attention and inventive work students complete further engages students and adds depth to classes they want to learn more about. This increased exposure permits students to get a glimpse into what a college major for that type of coursework would look like and can help them better plan for the future.
Finally, AP courses are beneficial to all those who are considering applying to and attending college. Demonstrating a willingness to work hard and think critically augments the attractiveness of an application. Since not all schools teach or evaluate assignments in the same way, exam scores level the playing field among applicants and provide a common standard for evaluation. Once enrolled, credits earned from passing the exam can be used for college credit or placement into advanced classes. College credits are costly, and the opportunity to earn credit without payment during high school is investing in one’s future while saving money.
Although AP classes may progress at a faster rate and ultimately focus on a standardized test, the benefits of enrolling largely outweigh the possible detriments. While some aspects of these courses may not be ideal, they serve as a crucial educational opportunity for all students.