AP Classes: Are They Worth It?


Maya Chidambaram, Staff Writer

When the Advanced Placement program, popularly known as AP,  was established in 1955, 1,229 students participated. In 2018, 2,808,990 students participated in the program, according to CollegeBoard. The amount of student participation has increased 2,000. It is no mystery that the AP program is extremely popular with high school students.

CollegeBoard created the AP program in 1955 in order for high school students to earn college credit through taking an end of the year exam and earning a 3, 4, or 5 on it. However, most AP students are not very prepared with classes such as AP World History which has a national average score of 2.66.

Despite the AP program’s popularity, AP students often struggle with time management and are often stressed. “I’m struggling a lot and I find myself getting only five to six hours of sleep a night, on a good day seven,” said Ellie Nguyen, a junior and AP veteran. Nguyen, by the end of the 2018-2019 school year, will have taken seven AP classes.

Nguyen finds herself stressed beyond belief. “I think CollegeBoard’s expectations are too high, especially for this generation,” said Nguyen. “CollegeBoard having all of these standards just sets us up to be stressed, and I don’t know anyone in my friend circle who are taking AP classes who are truly happy.”

In contrast to Nguyen, there are people who are not quite as stressed. “My AP class right now is stats and it’s not too stressful. I understand the concepts for the most part but it is definitely important to stay on top of things,” said Aylin Sofuoglu, a junior and AP newcomer. Sofuoglu will have taken two AP classes in total by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

Despite Sofuoglu’s significantly less stress levels than Nguyen, she still finds herself struggling to keep up. “AP courses affect my daily life because I have to put more effort into these classes which takes time out of my day. On school days, it’s a lot more stressful because I have to juggle a social life, track and school,” said Sofuoglu.

Yes, an AP score of 3, 4 or 5 is passing with CollegeBoard’s standards; however, will colleges accept those scores? “I didn’t get college credit for some of the AP exams I passed but didn’t get a 5 on,” said Devrina Chidambaram, Vista del Lago alumni and University of Illinois student. “I don’t think I remember a lot of what I learned in these AP courses, and they aren’t even close to being as difficult as college courses.” She still did end up getting credits for AP classes unrelated to her major in bioengineering such as AP World History which saved her time and money.

So, are AP classes worth it? “I think AP classes are so worthwhile, I just think that somehow stress needs to be alleviated because most of us put our academics and education before our mental health and you can feel how sad and how tired everyone is, but I feel like AP classes are helping me learn a lot about myself and I’m growing as a student. In college I will be ready to take those college classes and have them be comprehensible,” said Nguyen.

“In my opinion, AP classes are worth it when it comes to academics because it improves a vast majority of skills that you can’t obtain by taking regular, easy classes,” said Sofuoglu. “On a social level, it’s not really worth it because it takes a lot of time out of your day to actually study and it can affect your mental health a lot if you don’t understand the material.”

“They’re worth it only if you pass the AP tests and if you absolutely know that the college that you’re going to go to will accept the credit so you don’t have to take those courses in college,” said Chidambaram.

Vista students have a variety of courses to choose, with next year’s schedule having 20 AP classes with the addition of a new AP course, AP Physics 2. CollegeBoard offers 38 AP exams for students to take in May each year.