AP Classes: Advantages vs. Disadvantages


While AP (advanced placement) classes may seem futile to some, others will agree that taking these classes help students to achieve far greater success than only receiving college credit. Some of the advantages of taking AP classes include, but are not limited to, the following:

          -WORK ETHIC: Because of the increased rigor of AP classes, students develop a strong work ethic. There will be more work both inside and outside of class that needs to be completed in order for students to be successful in these advanced placement classes. By undertaking more work, students gain the opportunity to create their own study habits and a routine that works best for them. A strong work ethic is a great skill to begin developing in high school since it will be beneficial in whatever future endeavors may surface.

          -DEPTH OF TOPIC: AP classes allow students to pursue course topics to a further degree than is often done in other high school classes. The average AP class goes more in depth about its topics as compared to non-AP classes. This allows students to learn about more nuanced topics within the subject area and gain a better understanding of the finer details of the subject. 

          -GPA WEIGHT: If being in the top 5% of your grade is one of your goals, taking AP classes would be a beneficial step since they are weighted courses that use the 5.0 GPA scale. This means that if you were to receive an A in an AP class, it would be worth a 5.0 instead of a 4.0, a B would be a 4.0 instead of a 3.0, a C would be a 3.0 instead of a 2.0, and a D would be a 2.0 instead of a 1.0. This is a useful aspect of taking AP classes if you are looking to increase your GPA and have it extend beyond a 4.0, an aspect of your high school transcript that will be considered, especially by more selective colleges.

          -COLLEGE CREDIT: Speaking of colleges, perhaps the biggest motivation for students to take AP classes is the prospect of earning college credit by receiving a high enough score on the final AP exam. AP exams are scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best score. Most colleges accept a 4 or 5 on the exam for students to receive college credit, though some may also accept a 3 depending on the institution’s policy and the AP class itself. Colleges also usually respect the grind that comes with taking a rigorous college-level course as a high school student, so taking an AP class may set you apart from other potential students.

However, going to college does not have to be a part of your life by any means. If you don’t plan to attend college, you can still take AP classes for other reasons besides earning college credit. AP classes help you learn time management and critical thinking skills both in and out of class, foster a strong work ethic, create good study habits, and develop a sense of pride in your accomplishments. Being able to say that you took an AP class, regardless of how you score on the exam, if you’re going to college, or even if you liked or disliked the class, is still an achievement to be proud of and is definitely worth the time and effort. 



AP classes are generally thought of in a positive and negative way at the same time. You’ve read the positives, so now let’s take a look at the negatives.

         -STRESS: Taking an AP class, no matter which one, will cause you to stay up at night and wonder if it is really worth it. Moving closer to AP testing, the stress just continues to accumulate. You start to wonder if you really retained any knowledge at all this past year. You spend half your time using score calculators to find what the lowest you can get to still get what you want. (Teachers: This is a joke. Of course, I don’t do that since you told me not to).

         -PRICE: For every AP test you take, you have to pay a $96 fee to take the test. The AP capstone program is even more expensive at $144. WHAT! That’s insane. I don’t even WANT to take this test! Multiple that number by the amount of APs you plan on taking, and it’ll start to add up really quickly. 

         -COLLEGE CREDITS: The whole point of taking APs is to get college credit for it. However, some selective colleges (such as Ivy’s) don’t even take those. You’ll find yourself asking yourself AGAIN, “Is this worth it?”. College Credit Plus programs are looking really good right now. The coursework is lighter, the price is cheaper, and state colleges are required to accept credits. What’s so good about APs, again??

          -TIME: As you know by now, AP classes are no joke. Signing up for one is equivalent to giving up your free time (on the extreme level). On top of completing your course work, you also must find time to study for the test outside of class time. Not to mention all the additional AP reviews that your teachers offer as “optional”. All of this along with balancing a sport, job, and/or life can prove to be a challenge.

          -TEST/SCORING: Side note: I would like to talk with whomever decided to create the grading scale for APs. To begin with, let me explain the score breakdown. A 1 is the lowest score you can get. A 2 is better, but not a passing level score. A 3 is a passing score, and means that you are good at the subject that you took. A 4 means that you really knew the material. Lastly, a 5 means that you did exceptionally well and are basically a whiz. But what does that mean? For those like me, you need a set percentage of how much you need to get on each part, or you will spiral trying to figure it out. 


Obviously there are expectations to this rule, but for the most part, this is it folks. This is the breakdown of the pros and cons of APs. It is now up to you to decide if you can handle the stress, financial cost, and time commitment of an AP class. If you decide that you can, then you will certainly reap the rewards. We wish you the best of luck as you try to figure this out!