There’s a lot of conflicting information out there among high school students about whether or not AP exams are worth studying hard to master. However, while there is little or no harm in scoring poorly on AP exams, a good score can open up several great opportunities.
Here are six strong reasons to take your APs seriously and work hard for 4s and 5s across all your AP tests.
1. Demonstrate knowledge
Are you a fluent German speaker? Do you have a particular passion for Anthropology or Sociology?
If so, taking the exams in AP German, AP Human Geography, or any other AP subject your school doesn’t offer as part of its curriculum could be a great opportunity for you to demonstrate both your interest and your skill in those subjects to college admissions offices.
2. Stay competitive
If your school heavily emphasizes AP classes in its curriculum, then it is likely in your best interests to take several of those classes and to do well in them.
When it comes to applying for college, if many of your classmates have taken AP US History and you chose not to, admissions officers will likely wonder why you didn’t choose to challenge yourself in that way.
3. Get ahead for freshman year
This is perhaps one of the more exciting prospects opened up by high scores on your AP exams.
At many universities, AP exam scores of 4 or 5 often translate to credit that can exempt you from introductory classes and/or prerequisites for more advanced or specific classes.
The opportunities provided by this are nearly endless. Qualifying out of required classes may allow you to declare an extra major or minor, graduate early, or have more room in your schedule towards the end of college to do things like an independent research project or internship for credit.
4. Gain experience with formal exams
Depending on your educational background, you may never have encountered a timed, proctored exam before.
Taking AP exams before your ACT or SAT could help you shake off some of the nerves you’re feeling about those tests, and at the very least it will prepare you for the exams you will most likely have to take for a number of college classes.
5. Give admissions offices data, data, and more data
Due to the current uncertainty around the future of the ACT and SAT (as many schools have become test optional this year), having other test scores you’re proud to share with admissions offices can only help you. AP classes are well integrated into most high school curricula, meaning that they are far less likely to fade in relevance.
Generally, the more data you can provide with your applications to demonstrate subject interest and aptitude, the better!
6. Learn to be a better writer, thinker, and arguer
This is probably one of the least acknowledged yet most crucial benefits of working hard to succeed at APs.
The kind of writing you have to demonstrate on AP humanities exams is likely different from much of the writing you’ve been asked to do in previous classes, and it requires you to learn a whole new set of analytical and writing skills.
The level of classes you’ll take in college will inevitably pose some kind of learning curve for most students, but you can reduce the challenge and pressure of meeting professors’ expectations by learning to craft solid thesis statements and analysis now. Anyone who has been through college will tell you that your writing and arguing will forever benefit from working hard to prepare for APs now.
So, how do I start studying for AP exams?
Now that you’ve seen why working hard to prepare for AP exams is so important, look out for our next post on How to Write an Excellent AP Essay to delve deeper into the study strategies that will help you get those 5s.