Unlocking Academic Excellence: A Guide to Advanced Placement (AP) Courses

Unlocking Academic Excellence: A Guide to Advanced Placement (AP) Courses
Discover how AP courses empower students to pursue college-level studies, earn college credits, and stand out in the competitive admissions landscape.

What is AP?

AP or Advanced Placement Program is a three-year sequence of high school coursework offered by the College Board in over 34 subject areas. The idea behind offering AP courses is to provide college-bound high school seniors with a level of academic playing field. It doesn't matter whether you are a high school student in Dubuque, Iowa, or Darien, Connecticut; AP courses and the end-of-course examinations are the same wherever they are offered. The course content is the same. The teaching objectives are the same. The preparation for the final examinations is the same. Because the standard is the same everywhere and the College Board proctored and graded final examinations, college admissions professionals can compare student academic achievements with confidence. They know precisely what AP means when they see it on your transcript. They know exactly what your AP scores represent.

This brief video explains the impact of AP credit and placement.

That is the intrinsic value of AP Courses and their examinations from a college admissions point of view. Admissions professionals want to know that the math courses an applicant took at a public high school in Kansas are the same as those an applicant from a private school in Tennessee took. In other words, they want to compare apples to apples. When one applicant is offered a high school math course that is not an AP math course, the admissions staffers must determine the course content and standards to compare that applicant's academic achievement with other applicants who took an AP math course. AP stands for qualitative and quantitative consistency in measuring educational achievement.

AP courses are optional but allow students to work at a first-year college level. National examinations are held in May of the senior year. Most prep schools offer AP courses because a good grade in AP exams usually eliminates the need to take introductory college courses. That means you can get on with more advanced courses as soon as you start college, saving time and money.

College Board research shows that students who take AP courses are better prepared for college and more likely to graduate on time than students who don’t take AP courses. The college-level coursework also allows you to study a subject more in-depth than you would in a traditional high school class. This can help you determine whether you’d like to pursue a major or a career in that subject. Source: Forbes

How Are AP Exams Scored?

AP exams are scored on a five-point scale. A grade of 5 is the highest, and 1 is the lowest. For more information about AP scores and how they are determined, read About AP Scores.

The scores are a combination of the scores on both examination sections. They are as follows:

5, which is the highest and described by the College Board as "extremely well qualified"

4, which is "well qualified"

3, which is "qualified"

2, which is "possibly qualified"

1, which is "no recommendation"

Since coursework in a given subject is generally considered the equivalent of a first-year college course, students who achieve a 4 or 5 are usually permitted to skip freshmen courses in the subject.

How Are AP Courses Taught?

One of the features of the AP curriculum that appeals to most parents is the interactive nature of the teaching. Students in an AP class are involved in the discussions. They are not simply learning information that will never be used after the examination. They learn to share ideas. They discuss. They debate. AP courses help sharpen students' academic skills in ways that will benefit them in their college-level studies and in later life. Combine AP courses with the small class size typical in most prep schools, and you have a potent academic combination for high school students.

This video demonstrates that the secret to successful learning is a gifted teacher.

The College Board supports its Advanced Placement Courses with a full line of training aids and summer workshops. Online webinars make best practices and what works for as wide a group of teachers as possible available.

In What Subject Areas Are AP Courses Offered?

The AP offers over 30 courses in 7 subject areas. AP Capstone, Arts, English, History and Social Science, Math, Computer Science, Sciences, and World Languages and cultures comprise those subject areas. Find out more about them at AP Courses.

Who Administers AP Courses?

While the College Board administers the Advanced Placement program, a panel of expert educators from around the U.S.A. guides all aspects of the program. Teachers also participate in reading the free response sections of the exams each June. AP examinations take place during the first two weeks of May. AP examinations are standardized. They are administered in the same manner worldwide. As a result, both students and parents need to be familiar with AP Exam Policies. Failure to adhere strictly to all the AP rules and regulations could cost you your score.

How many AP courses should you take? Most prep schools offer Advanced Placement courses. Some schools provide six to eight AP courses. Others offer over 20 AP subjects. Schools that do so have to maintain a highly qualified and experienced faculty to achieve good results in these rigorous examinations. Put another way, their academic reputation is on the line. The quality of curriculum and course offerings is another aspect of any prep school that parents should consider when evaluating schools.

Who scores AP exams?

AP Higher Education states: "The multiple-choice sections of AP Exams are scored by computer. The free-response sections are scored each summer at the annual AP Reading by experienced AP teachers and college faculty who have experience teaching corresponding college courses. Approximately half of the Readers are college faculty. Readers are selected to ensure an appropriate balance among several factors, including school locale and setting, gender, race, ethnicity and years of teaching experience."

Points of Comparison With IB and Progressive Education

If you had to characterize AP and where it fits into the high school spectrum, consider AP the center. Then, on the left would be progressive education, and on the right would be the International Baccalaureate program. Advanced Placement courses reportedly have a favorable impact on college admissions decisions. https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/exploreap/for-parents I encourage you to explore the AP website. It has several articles which will help you decide if AP fits your requirements and objectives. I recommend exploring AP, IB, and progressive education options when your child is in 6th or 7th grade. Doing that gives you a clear idea of what kind of schools you want to focus on as you get closer to your child's high school years. Knowledge is always power when it comes to making significant decisions. Explore your options thoroughly and understand the pros and cons of Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate, and progressive education.

Questions? Contact us on Facebook. @publicschoolreview

#AdvancedPlacement #APcourses #CollegeReadiness #AcademicExcellence #CollegeAdmissions #HighSchoolEducation #ExamPreparation #StudentSuccess

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