ABS high school students have the option to earn college credit prior to graduation and to take higher-level courses that can better prepare them for college. The Advanced Placement (AP) program is offered to students starting in their junior year, and the curriculum is administered by the College Board.
AP classes are designed to prepare high school students for the rigors of college-level work. After students complete an AP class, for which they earn high school credit, they can take the AP exam. The exams take place every year in May.
The Advanced Placement experience is not for every student. Before choosing to enroll your child in an AP course, consider these factors:
- Your child’s past performance in the subject area. If a student has always excelled at science, AP Chemistry may be a great idea. On the other hand, if he or she tends to struggle in math, AP Calculus might be too much of an ordeal.
- Your child’s skills. AP courses in the humanities—English, history, philosophy, etc.—require heavy amounts of reading and writing. Is your student prepared for long, difficult reading assignments, multiple essays, and in-depth research papers?
- Your child’s schedule. A student who plays sports year-round, holds leadership positions in one or more extracurricular activities, and/or has a part-time job may find it difficult to meet the sizeable obligations of an AP class.
- Your child’s GPA. No student should take an AP course if it’s likely to lower his or her overall GPA. College admissions officers want to see students taking challenging courses, but they also want to see strong grades. If your child is worried about maintaining decent grades in an AP course, it might be wise to stay with an honors course.
BENEFITS OF ENROLLING IN ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES
- Be challenged. Advanced Placement classes are rigorous and demanding, offering an intellectual stimulation that students won’t get in regular high school courses.
- Improve college admissions chances. If a student does well in an AP class, it’s a signal to admissions counselors that he or she is ready for the pressures of college study.
- Arrive at college better prepared. AP classes sharpen students’ writing skills, teach them how to think critically, and improve their problem-solving abilities. AP students learn to navigate the academic expectations they’ll encounter in college courses.
- Earn college credit. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 (lowest) through 5 (highest). If a student earns a 3 or higher, he or she can receive course credits, advanced placement, or both upon arriving at college. AP policies vary from school to school, but the majority of colleges in the U.S. (as well as colleges and universities in 40 other countries) grant credit and/or accelerated placement for AP exams.
- Save money. Students with AP experience and credits are more likely to graduate from college in four years. Extra semesters (or years) at college can put a heavy financial burden on families.