The Up and Downside of AP Courses | Doing College | Elizabeth LaScala | |

Local Blogs

Doing College

By Elizabeth LaScala

E-mail Elizabeth LaScala

About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

View all posts from Elizabeth LaScala

The Up and Downside of AP Courses

Uploaded: May 8, 2019
Depending on how your particular school treats AP classes, an AP class can be worth a full grade higher than the regular track class (that’s how some students push their GPAs beyond the ‘perfect’ 4.0!). And even if your high school does not inflate AP grades, many college admissions offices do it for you.

Good AP scores may reduce your eventual college course load and this could result is a shorter time in college. Generally, a high score on an Advanced Placement exam will equate to one semester of a college course. A high score is often a four (4) or five (5) out of the five (5) point scale used to score an Advanced Placement test. While it is theoretically possible for you to bypass an entire semester of college by taking several AP classes (which can save you thousands of dollars), it is not common. Many colleges do not accept AP scores for course credit. Others may require you to take its version of a similar course. The rationale offered is so you learn the material in a way that provides a proper foundation for the university’s particular academic curriculum.

Other colleges my offer you the chance to take an assessment exam before accepting an AP score for course credit. The assessment exam is usually quite comprehensive and a passing score can be difficult to achieve, unless you have reviewed and studied the material. Your brain loses a great deal of content over time. Even then, the assessment may be the final for that course, and it is likely to be difficult to pass. For example, one of my daughters scored a solid five (5) on an AP Biology exam in her senior year of high school, but MIT would not accept the course for credit until she passed their introduction to biology course for bioengineering majors. The passing grade was a 70% and she scored 68%, not making the cut for MIT! On a more optimistic note, our University of California system is often quite willing to accept AP courses in high school for college credit. One of my clients graduated in 3.5 years because UC Berkeley accepted all five (5) of her AP classes for course credit.

Admissions often view AP classes as one indicator of your intellectual vitality and willingness to take the initiative to challenge yourself in high school. Since AP coursework is taught at the college level, good grades in these classes and strong scores on the exams can prove you are ready for college success.

As you ponder the question of taking one or more AP classes, it is important to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision that provides reasonable balance. One way to do this is to limit the AP classes you take to those subjects that resonate with your interests and possible majors or career paths.

It is important to weigh carefully the potential bump in GPA and the beneficial effect on college admission outcomes with the fact that AP classes do take more time. It is not uncommon for one AP class to involve two or more hours of homework each weeknight. That’s time you might spend studying for your other classes, preparing for standardized tests and pursuing your extracurricular activities—not to mention getting some much needed sleep. And that, too, would be time well spent!

Read more about other trends college applicants should consider here.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by magician in Philadelphia, a resident of Castlewood Heights,
on May 8, 2019 at 9:41 pm

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Posted by ddmom, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jun 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

ddmom is a registered user.

I can't believe the success my son and his friends had getting accepted into top colleges after completing 2 years at a community college. They were accepted into the business/economic programs at USC, Cal Berkeley, UCSD, UCSB, Long Beach State, St. Marys, Pepperdine, UCSF, Loyola Marymount, Chapman, and Santa Clara. They enjoyed their high school years without the stress of AP classes, and are now attending better schools than many of their high school counterparts. We also know another student who attended community college during high school, then only spent 1 year out of high school and transferred. It seems that many in our community look down upon attending community college after high school, but to me, it appears to be a very successful less expensive route to take.

Posted by Jen G., a resident of Birdland,
on Jun 6, 2019 at 1:51 pm

Pleasanton Parents are concerned=why is Ken Rocha still employed?--he is in charge of curriculum and was involved in the scandals--get him out of there . p-town weekly please investigate and write an new article on that!

Follow this blogger.
Sign up to be notified of new posts by this blogger.



Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 10 comments | 2,492 views

Reflecting on lives this Thanksgiving Day
By Tim Hunt | 0 comments | 1,161 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 958 views


Support local families in need

Your contribution to the Pleasanton Weekly Holiday Fund will go directly to nonprofits supporting local families and children in need. Last year, Pleasanton Weekly readers contributed over $83,000 to support eight safety-net nonprofits right here in the Tri-Valley.