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AP Classes: It’s About More than Credit

AP Classes: It’s About More than Credit

The definition of "Advanced Placement" is not "impossible.”

Paige Sheffield

November 25, 2013

You took biology. You took art history and French and chemistry. But, as soon as AP is placed in front of those course titles, you begin to feel intimidated. Advanced Placement? You’re just a normal high school student.

But the truth of the matter is that Advanced Placement simply means that you’re taking a class that will prepare you for college and will possibly provide you with college credit before even starting. They’re not impossible classes beyond your level of comprehension; they are classes that will help you transition between high school and college. Though I didn’t start taking AP classes until my junior year, I would recommend taking them during your sophomore year.

Here are nine reasons why you should take AP classes:

1. You CAN succeed in them

The definition of “Advanced Placement” is not “impossible.” The classes may challenge you at times, but feeling challenged is good. Challenge makes you think, question yourself and learn, which is so valuable. In regular classes, you may be used to copying answers from textbooks directly onto worksheets, and AP classes will require you to ”http://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/4074-approaching-extracurriculars">stretch beyond that. They will push you to understand subjects in depth, but that depth of knowledge will help you in the long run and will teach you a lot.

2. You will learn to take notes

In one trimester of AP Calculus, I used an entire three subject notebook. There is not a shortage of notes in AP classes. While you’ll initially find it necessary to write absolutely everything down, you’ll learn that this isn’t usually the most beneficial thing to do. It will take time, but you’ll learn how to keep your notes concise and how to take the notes necessary to do well in the class. You’ll be able to identify which little details are important and which ones aren’t. In college, you’ll need to do this, too, and already having experience doing so will put you a step ahead in your college courses.

3. You’ll strive for knowledge rather than grades

When I started taking AP classes, I learned that the knowledge you accumulate is so much more important than the grades that result. I stopped thinking “how will I get an A?” and started thinking “how will I learn as much as I can? How will I ”http://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/4065-memorize-this">understand this better? How will I improve?" These questions are super important, because grades don’t mean much when it comes to your actual career. In the work place, when you’re faced with a problem, you will need to ask “how will I improve this?” Problem solving skills matter and, in AP classes, you stop taking them for granted.

4. You will improve your reasoning (and test taking) skills

This is related to reason #3, but you’ll start to think through questions better. In AP Biology, I learned to read questions and determine what they were actually asking. In other high school classes, we’re often faced with simple questions. But in AP classes, some of the questions seem difficult because we don’t even know what they’re asking, yet alone what the answer is. Before solving problems, we must first identify and define problems. AP classes help you do this.

5. You will learn to accept failure sometimes

You’ll make mistakes every once in a while. You’ll mess up and you won’t easily get 100 percent like you may have in your other classes. But more importantly, you’ll realize that’s okay. You’ll realize that failure can lead to improvement and can actually help you in the long run.

6. You will bond with your classmates

AP classes are often longer than your normal classes, and they can also be stressful sometimes. The combination of this time and this stress can lead to you building strong relationships with both your teacher and your classmates. Think of your AP class as a kind of support group. They will be there for you when you need help. They will be there for you when you don’t understand the homework assignment. They will be there to listen to you vent about your work load. They will be there to congratulate you when you ace the test you spent so much time preparing for.

7. You will discover your interests

Maybe you thought you wanted to go to med school, but then you hate AP Biology. This will help you realize that maybe med school isn’t the best choice for you. It’s great to explore subjects in depth before you even start college. It helps you redefine your interests and narrow down to a few college majors. This will allow you to pursue classes related to your major earlier on in college.

8. You might get college credit

Scoring well on the AP exam, as you probably know, may allow you to receive college credit. However, keep in mind that not all colleges grant credit for every exam or even any exam. If you already know where you’ll be attending college, check to see if the college offers credit and what score you need to get it.

9. You’ll learn something

In all the classes I’ve taken throughout high school, AP Biology (the AP class I took last year), was one that taught me the most. I didn’t expect to learn a lot. I had already taken regular biology and I don’t by any means consider myself a scientific person. In many classes, I forget the information after the class ends. Now, a year later, when I hear my friends talking about their AP Biology assignments, I still know what they’re talking about. I could still tell people about the nervous system or genetics. That lasting knowledge is not something that results from all classes. Though I do not plan to study science, having that background will still help me throughout college and my career.

AP classes mean so much more than impressing colleges or getting college credit. They will provide you with knowledge and valuable skills that will stick with you. Though the title may sound intimidating, don’t fear AP classes. I’m not saying you won’t ever make mistakes. I’m not saying you won’t get any bad grades. But, I am saying that those mistakes shouldn’t scare you; they’re there to help you and teach you and ultimately, help you succeed in the future, regardless of the number score you receive.


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