The International Changemaker

The Student News Site of EF Academy

The International Changemaker

The International Changemaker

More APs = More Opportunities?

An AP Calculus preparation book with a practice test in the background. April 23rd 2024, photographed by Jimmy Tsai.

My name is Jimmy Tsai, and I am a journalist for The International Changemaker. Although it’s my first year studying in the US, I am a senior at EF Academy and will graduate from high school this summer. I am taking three AP classes, and I am planning to take four AP exams this school year. I think it’s a great idea to let students take AP courses in high school as they will not need to learn that specific content later in college. This will free up time to let them have more time getting used to the environment while also moving effort to more challenging subjects in their freshman year.

In recent years, more and more universities have started to let freshmen send their AP exam results to them and let them skip introductory classes in their first year if they meet the requirements. Almost all of the universities and colleges in the US now award credits for AP courses. Other universities in Canada, the UK, and Australia are also following the trend.

First of all, we must answer the question, which is the game-changer in college admissions, the class or the exam? The answer is both. As students normally apply to colleges before the end of the school year when AP tests are administered, the admission offices can only evaluate your application with the AP classes you took, if you are taking the tests at the end of your senior year.

Taking AP classes benefits you in two ways. First, by having AP courses appear on your transcripts, you are letting the universities know that you are taking the most challenging classes that your school offers and you have firsthand experience in college-level courses. You have undergone college’s introductory courses even before graduating from high school, helping you to get on the track faster than other students in your freshman year.

On the other hand, the AP exam is a standardized test that you can choose to attend at the end of the year. After taking the tests, you can self-report the test scores to the university you have committed to via the College Board. This is when your college will decide whether you can skip the introductory classes in your first year. Most colleges will give you credits if you get a 4 or above on the test. After entering college, scoring high in AP exams benefits you even more than enrolling in AP classes. Skipping the 101 classes also helps you save money and speeds up your university progress, you might even have the chance to graduate early.

Now that we have learned the advantages of taking APs, you might start thinking the more the merrier. But that is not entirely true. According to an Education Week article published on October 31st, 2023 by Illeana Najarro, “research shows that the largest predicted boost in college grades and on-time degree completion comes from moving a student from 0 to 1 AP and from 1 to 2 APs.” College Board concluded. In other words, students who took 3 or more AP classes don’t appear to have a big difference in college grades or degree completion.

The research conducted by CollegeBoard, suggests the perfect amount of AP classes a student should take. June 2023, published by CollegeBoard.

Taking the AP classes that relate to your intended major can increase your chances of being accepted into your dream college. In most situations, there are just 2~3 classes that are tied with each respective major. Focusing on APs related to your intended major may be a better idea than taking as many APs as possible.

In my personal experience, I came to the US in my senior year, back in Taiwan, our curriculum is different from the US education system, so when it comes to applying to colleges in the US, it’s hard for them to know what I really learned in my high school years. One way to show them what I have learned in my previous high school is to take AP classes, letting them know I can take college-level courses in high school. So this is also a really helpful tool for international students who want to continue their education in American universities.

Taking AP courses really benefits you a lot, like saving you college tuition fees if you do well in the AP tests, helping you keep up the academic progress in your freshman year, and impressing university admissions. Although it can be stressful to take college courses as a high school student, and you need to pay almost $100 to take each subject’s exam, you will likely pay more and be more stressed taking these classes freshman year. So if not now, when?

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Jimmy Tsai, Sports Editor
Jimmy is a senior and a staff reporter for The International Changemaker. He enjoys studying at EF Academy and found an interest in reporting after taking the Journalism class taught by Mr. Thomas. Studying in the US has given him more chances to learn in real-life situations, like writing an article about the school’s basketball team. With his interest in Journalism rising rapidly, he continues his passion for critical thinking in Engineering and Programming. Jimmy is also one of the founding members of the school’s robotics team.

Comments (0)

All The International Changemaker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *