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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Tsai

Are AP Classes Worth It?

It is now April. As we slowly work our way through this month, thousands of students across the country will be taking Advanced Placement exams that they sign up for earlier this year in March. Hours of cramming and studying are soon to come as we approach the AP week.

This brings up a question: Are AP classes and honors classes even worth the hours of extra work?

Well, there are definitely both positive and negative sides of taking these challenging courses.

Let’s start with the workload. AP and Honors classes require you to utilize critical thinking both during class and out of school. Hours and hours of studying and conceptualizing are inevitable. No matter if its humanities classes like AP U.S. history, AP World history, honors English, or STEM classes like BC Calculus, AP biology, or AP Physics, all of these courses will require you to commit hours of your free time and weekends to complete the projects, research papers, homework, and study for exams.

Despite all of the extra work one would have to put in by taking AP and honors courses, usually, the hard work will eventually pay off.

It is always good to try and challenge yourself in the fields that you are interested in. If you find yourself enjoying the moment of finally solving a mathematical proof, or understanding the metaphorical reference that Shakespeare made in a character’s soliloquy, perhaps this is a sign that you have interest in this particular field. Taking more challenging courses allows you to have a chance to experience a college-level education regarding this subject, and it let you have a sense of how majoring in this professional field is really about.

For example, I personally know several upperclassmen that explored their interests by taking honors and AP classes. In one instance, my friend Alex has always wanted to major in biochemistry because his parents told him so. After taking Regents level Biology, he felt that Biology is very simple and easy. It wasn’t until he took the AP biology course did he realize that he has no personal passion for Biology. One might think this is a horrible situation, where you find yourself stuck in a course that you do not like. However, he used this as a learning opportunity. He was glad that he realized he didn't like biology early on before he went on to pursue this career path in college.  

In addition to just self-interest, there is also a more brutally realistic aspect of this decision. Colleges love to see students push themselves out of their comfort zones and challenge themselves in different difficult courses. Although extracurriculars such as sports teams, musicals, and speech and debate teams would help spice up your college application resume, your academic achievements are the primary factor during screening.

Personally, I think AP and Honors courses formulate a win-win situation for students. We get to both explore our interested and develop passion in the field, and also impress colleges by challenging ourselves academically.  Always remember: the base rule is that you only take a manageable amount of AP and Honors courses, and make sure to leave enough time to sleep and relax!

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