You know when parents say things like, “If Riley and Maya jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course you wouldn’t – you just want to be allowed to (take public transportation alone, go to a concert, etc.) like Riley and Maya. Well, AP classes are definitely something you want to be doing if Riley and Maya are doing them – and this time, your parents will agree. If you are applying to competitive colleges, you can’t afford to be the only applicant without AP classes on your transcript.
What are AP classes?
AP classes are essentially “high school classes on steroids”. By taking AP classes, you’re showing college admissions officers that you can perform at a higher level than the average student at your school, and that you are ready for the big show – college.
For example, you can take a standard high school US History class and become really annoyed with concepts like tariffs and accept that the British are pretty lame. Or, you can challenge yourself by taking AP European History. The subject matter will be more in-depth and you will become an avid tea drinker in order to fully immerse yourself in the European way (plus, you may need the tea to stay up late studying).
AP classes come with a specially trained teacher, increased critical thinking, and more work. If you perform well, it also means a higher-than-4.0 GPA and a more impressive college application.
What are AP exams?
Because AP classes are designed to be on par with college classes, you can take official AP exams offered by The College Board that will prove you should earn real college credit for your studies. If you’re taking AP classes, these exams are imperative because they can allow you to possibly bypass general education courses in college.
Essentially, AP classes will save you money and free up time to volunteer for worthy causes – at least this is what you will say on your application. In reality, you will probably use your free time to nap.
AP exams are scored on a one to five scale. Aim to score at least a four if you are planning to apply to competitive colleges. Fun fact: you are able to take AP exams without having been enrolled in their respective AP classes, so even if your school does not offer AP courses, you can still study up on a particular subject to take its AP exam.
Will all colleges accept my AP work as college credit?
Some will and some won’t. It is important to research each college you are applying to and find out exactly how AP classes and exams translate to that particular school.
Harvard, for example, does not offer college credit for AP classes on a one-to-one basis. However, Harvard does use AP exam results for course placement, as well as to give students the opportunity to apply for Advance Standing – meaning you can graduate in three years instead of the traditional four.
The University of California (UC) system, on the other hand, does count AP classes as elective college credits as long as you score a three or higher on the official exam (to be a competitive applicant, you should still aim to score a four or five). Additionally, UC schools will allow you to use AP classes to bypass introductory college courses.
What if my high school doesn’t offer AP classes?
Some high schools offer only a few AP classes while others may offer none. College admissions officers review your transcript while also evaluating what academic opportunities you had at your high school, so they will know whether you were actually able to take AP courses or not.
Even if your high school doesn’t offer AP classes, you can still show admissions officers that you’re ready for college-level work by enrolling in courses at your local community college. And if transportation is an issue, many community colleges offer courses online.
What about IB courses?
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is offered at schools worldwide, though it is not nearly as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Like AP classes, the IB coursework is more rigorous than standard high school classwork, and by scoring well on an IB exam, you can earn college credit and/or advanced placement. You can learn more about IB courses here.
So I need to prepare for AP exams and the SAT/ACT?
Basically, yes. Aside from studying for these exams, however, you also need to do well in your other schoolwork and still have time for extracurricular activities, sports and prom. Fortunately, Veritas Prep is here to help you prepare for your exams and consult you on your time management.
Veritas Prep college consultants and tutors can work with you to create an in-depth timeline and help you plan class schedules so that you are taking all the right steps during your high school career. Riley and Maya have already signed up!
Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!