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Is keeping my (super difficult) AP class worth it?

Written By: Rebecca Hill - College and Graduate Admission Counseling Director

With virtual learning and less access to teachers and peers, Advanced Placement classes can feel more overwhelming than usual. Before you consider dropping that course, we’ll help you weigh the pros and cons.

Reasons to keep

1. Your application to college will glow.

Commitment to an AP course signals to universities that you are a student who likes to challenge themselves. It also suggests that you’ll be ready for advanced material once you arrive at college and won’t need remedial classes. If you are a freshman, sophomore, or junior, the more high scores you earn on your exams (3+) will help colleges determine how academically prepared you are, and these scores can even compensate for an average or low SAT or ACT score.

2. Your GPA will get a boost.

If AP courses are weighted, even a B in a very difficult course will still contribue a solid 4.0 to your transcript. Likewise, an A (5.0 points weighted) will help offset that C you got in Latin sophomore year. Having these courses on your transcript this application season will show that you are still rising to the occasion despite challenging circumstances.

3. You can earn college credit. https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/getting-credit-placement/search-policies

College Board has a great tool to determine which colleges use AP scores and how they do so. For example, at UVA, a score of 4 or higher on AP Biology will earn you 4 college credits, and a score of 5 will earn you a whopping 8 college credits! Fast track to graduation or at least courses you want to take, instead of enduring GenEd blues.

4. You can place in higher-level university courses.

Do some highly selective colleges on your list not award credit for even high AP scores? No need to have an existential crisis: you can still get a leg up. For example, if you earn a 4 or 5 in AP French, Brown University will allow you to advance to the upper echelons of the department, opening up the possibility to take graduate classes in French philosophy as a freshman or sophomore in college.

5. You’ll feel at ease in a college classroom. 

The purpose of AP courses is first and foremost to expose students to foundational-level content in a given topic. When this groundwork is well-laid, you won’t panic when a psychology professor mentions attachment theory, a Spanish professor alludes to a minor scene in Don Quixote, or a calculus professor references Taylor’s theorem. Instead, you can focus on getting ahead rather than struggling to keep up.

Reasons to drop

1. You have too many or too similar APs.

Do you need to take AP EnviSci and AP Chem in the same semester? Not really. Just one course in each of the core subject areas (Math, English, Science, History/Civics) ought to do it.

2. You’d rather study for an AP exam that your school doesn’t offer.

Did you know you can register to take an AP exam without taking a course? Yes! Want to take Drawing, Chinese, or Microeconomics? It can be done, and in some circumstances, you can work with your school to earn high school credit as well.

3. Your AP doesn’t align with future major or plans.

Biting your nails to ace AP Italian, but have no plans to become a wine merchant or opera singer? Already proved your linguistic excellence with 4 years of straight A’s in Spanish anyway? Odds are you can take a step back from that one.

4. You can take a DE course in the same subject.

AP CompSci is great, but if you have the opportunity to take a coding class at PVCC, earn guaranteed college credit, and partner with a local software development company, this may be a better fit for you.

5. Your stress is pulling down your other courses.

Is the cloud of anxiety from one AP course affecting your performance in other subjects you normally love? It may be time to cut your losses to minimize damage to your GPA and overall morale.

How Clayborne can help

  • Regular support from a subject-area specialist

Our high-skilled group of tutors are ready to geek out with you on the subjects where you need the most help, as well as offer organizational coaching and study skills.

  • Small group classes starting in the spring semester (Jan/Feb 2021) with a dual focus:
  1. Simulating the college seminar.

Learning with a few other students who are preparing for the same exam will generate the kinds of discussions that are at the core of the college experience, helping you become more comfortable in this setting.

  1. Essential test prep skills.

At Clayborne, we know our standardized tests backwards and forwards. With over a decade of experience in coaching students through AP exam success, you will learn, practice, and master strategies for multiple-choice, short response, and long essay questions so that the May exams will be a breeze.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, we’re happy to discuss your options. Contact us here and we’ll start with a free consultation.

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