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AP or not AP?

It is that time of year again for high schoolers to begin scheduling next year's classes. A question weighing on the minds of students is whether or not to take an Advanced Placement course, more commonly called an AP class.

An AP class follows the college curriculum of a particular subject such as history, English, foreign language and science. As one might expect, it requires much more work and effort than the high school course. This can discourage many from taking AP courses. But there are numerous benefits as well.

According to a recent New York Times report, the College Board is redesigning the entire AP program featuring new detailed standards for the courses and new exams in 2012-13.

While it does entail more work, it prepares students for college; college work will be similar to the work in an AP class.

It is a good idea to get a taste of something before actually doing it. This goes for college, too. Maybe in other classes, students can get by without studying and still get good grades, but in AP classes and certainly in college, that simply will not cut it. To understand the material fully, students must be responsible for studying.

Textbooks are an indispensable item in both AP and college classes. They serve as a supplement as well as reinforcement to the teachers' instructions. During an AP class, students learn how to use the textbook and make it the most beneficial. In college, these same textbooks will cost money. If one cannot use it correctly, then it is simply not money well spent.

The curriculum requires students to get more in depth with the material. This requires a faster pace, so students must find a way to maximize their time. If the teacher gives lectures, make sure to take good notes. Write and understand the main ideas. If a student writes down everything the teacher says, he or she will miss the point. Trying to reread and decipher notes can waste time. During an AP class, students can see what types of notes work best for them.

Of course, there is the dreaded homework. For many high schoolers, their schedules are packed. From sports practices to club meetings to just hanging out with friends, there seems to be too few hours in the day to accomplish it all. There is a simple solution to this: No procrastinating. If students do a little of the homework or studying each night, cramming and pulling all-nighters are dramatically reduced. Most importantly, it reduces stress. We can all do with a little less stress in our lives.

The unique aspect of homework in a high school AP class is that teachers collect it. This ensures that the assignment is not only completed but done with quality. Furthermore, students have a much closer bond to teachers in high school, who are also more accessible than college professors. Students can get extra help in high school.

When it comes down to it, the main reason many students decide to take an AP class is because of the savings. The instruction is free, and the exam costs about $80. College courses, on the other hand, can cost thousands of dollars.

An AP class also looks excellent on a college application and can help lead to scholarships.

It is important to remember that in an AP class, it is typical to not get higher grades in the beginning. Grades can be improved. Hard work is essential to success.

Students also can take the Regents exam for the same subject, if offered, in June. This exam will seem facile after taking the AP exam. Most importantly, you will have a college class under your belt before even entering. You may have to take a supplement course in college depending on the subject, but chance are you will fare much better with the knowledge of an AP class to those without the advantage. In the end, most students agree it's worth it.


Aman Shamaa is a junior at Clarence High School.

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