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AP Courses: Are they really worth it?
May 29, 2023
Amanda Li, Grade 10

With the coming of AP exam season every year, students find themselves facing weeks of revision and asking themselves the same question: did I make the right decision? Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Burnaby North are simplified versions of university-level courses that help gain transferable credits if a desirable score is achieved. Although the idea of taking a full load of college-level enrichment may seem appealing at first, many are quickly faced with the challenges of taking on an overloaded semester.

When completing your course selection for the upcoming school year, it is important to keep in mind that taking up your schedule with heavy academic courses does not come without its challenges. For instance, AP classes (and in some cases, their prerequisite honors courses) often require a significant amount of time and effort outside of regular class hours, such as studying for exams, completing additional assignments, and preparing for presentations. This can lead to a heavy workload and limit a student’s time to participate in other extracurricular activities. Secondly, AP classes typically cover a lot of material in a shorter amount of time in comparison to traditional high school courses. This can be challenging for students who need more time to process and fully understand the concepts. Additionally, the year-end AP exam condenses all the course content into one written exam. Reviewing for these exams can be challenging, as most students find themselves relearning important topics from the start of the school year. Most importantly, AP classes often require students to take more responsibility for their own learning. This may involve independent research, critical analysis, and self-studying class material. This can be challenging for students who are used to more structured learning environments.

However, with a balanced schedule, AP courses can give students a major advantage in their potential post-secondary studies as well as cultivate their personal interests.  Studies have shown that AP students are generally more successful at college compared with other students. Furthermore, Advanced Placement courses can help a student gain insight of what they like or dislike on top of learning interesting and enriching course content. Along with getting a head-start on university-level course content, working hard on excelling in high school can take some pressure off your first-year university workload. Finally, AP course credits can also be used to enhance universities applications (although this is dependent on the institution itself).

All things considered, Advanced Placement courses may or may not be a suitable choice depending on the individual’s time management skills and ability to keep up with rigorous academic courses. After all, taking one extra AP class most likely will not dramatically affect your future, but cultivating a strong academic or extracurricular interest will.