Story by: Sydney Shurman, Reviews Editor
Photo by: Jennifer McGowan, staff photographer
Many students at Mt. Vernon wanting to graduate with an Academic Honors diploma are all too familiar with AP classes. Some classes may be more challenging than others, but all are expected to be more demanding than normal high school classes, or even honors courses.
Since AP classes are considered college-level courses, students who pass the class and the AP exam can receive college credit. In theory, the concept sounds fantastic. Students receive credit before they even get to college, which means they do not have to spend as much money on that class and they have one less class to take in college. This equals more money and more free time. So why not pile on as many AP classes as possible?
The answer: that wonderful concept is not exactly the truth. Each college has its own policy on how many and what kind of credits it gives students, but for the most part, AP classes are not a one-way ticket to a perfect college experience.
Passing the AP exam does not mean that a student gets the exact number of credits required in the class that would be the college equivalent of their AP class. This does not mean that students do not get credit for their work, because they certainly do. However, it is not always in the form expected.
While each college decides what kind of credits a student receives based on their AP test scores, the College Board has a break down on their website. At IU Bloomington for example, getting a passing score of a 3 typically gives only an undecided credit in the area of the class. For some classes though, like Biology and English, it does earn three credit hours in a 100 level class. Most classes require at least a 4 to get a 100 level class or higher. Physics is the most rigorous, requiring a perfect 5 on the AP test to get anything more than an elective credit.
IUPUI is more lenient on giving specific class credits, with a score of 3 earning at the very least enough credits for one full elective course. Ball State is by far the best, offering at least a 100 level class for a 3 on the AP test.
That being said, it is definitely not impossible to earn satisfying college credits by taking AP classes. Certain colleges are always going to have different standards, and that might be a factor for some when choosing a university. However, all state universities do accept AP credits in some form, and they often provide enough credits for at least a full elective course.
By no means am I trying to discourage anyone from taking AP classes. I have taken three myself, and I can wholeheartedly say that they have all greatly benefited me in at least one way. They can provide a solid foundation for knowledge that students will need in college, and they can be a helpful snapshot of the rigor of college courses.
In some cases, AP classes can even do more than that. AP Literature helped shape me as a better writer and opened my eyes to truly amazing pieces of literature. Also, AP Government has made me so much more knowledgeable about politics, on top of the fact that it gives me the chance to express and listen to different opinions.
“AP Language is a lot of work, and it drives me insane, but I feel so much more prepared for college now,” said Ciera McCann, 12.
I think it is an excellent idea to take AP classes, even if they are not required to graduate. They have numerous positive qualities, but they are not easy. There is more work, and they are not a guaranteed “get-out-of-jail-free-card.” I highly encourage all students to take AP classes, but I believe in taking them for the proper reasons, and telling people the truth about what they are getting into.