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The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

A reflection on AP classes

Even if you don’t get a “passing score,” they are worth it in the end

Walking out of the closed part of the E-wing, I felt a wind of relief; all of my AP tests were finally over. All the stress from weeks prior had been lifted, and I could finally relax. For days and days before my three tests, I crammed all the material from the year using my notes and a playlist I found on Spotify, not to mention the homework and quizzes in other classes on top of my job and sport.

Now that I took the tests and have started looking at colleges, I did further research, not on the topics of the tests, but on how my outcome would truly affect my future in college.

Some tests are proven to be harder than others, with lower scores overall and longer curriculums fit into a small time frame. According to PrepScholar, the courses with the lowest pass rate are Physics 1 and United States History, while the classes with the lowest 5 rate are Art and Design: 3-D Design, and again Physics 1. But overall, they cite most test takers view United States History, Biology, English Literature, and Calculus as the hardest AP classes.

Even though a 3 is a passing score, many schools are increasing credit acceptance to only 4’s or even 5’s. With this major change, it leaves many to wonder, if they do not receive a credit-worthy score, what is the point of AP classes? There are pros and cons to AP courses, such as higher class expectations and a college class experience, yet the cost and stress to ensure a student gets a qualifying score may not be worth it if they score low.

As a student, I believe if I score below a 4 (what is accepted at most colleges), then the course was not worth it. Many teachers, on the other hand, think otherwise. Mrs. Sands is one of these teachers.

Often found encouraging AP courses, Sands believes college education should not only start in college but be found within high school classes as well. “AP courses teach students how classes will be in college,” she said. A smooth transition with the aid of higher classes “encourages a smooth and easier transition into college life.”

Having college class experiences while in high school is vital to a smooth and easy transition into real college classes. Many students believe the transition to college will be easy, and the classes and workload will be the same, but this is the furthest thing from the truth.

College graduate Kayla Santos illustrates how classes are vastly different from those in high school. “I barely had free time going into my freshman year of college and there was a lot of homework,” she explains. Kayla spent most of her time “in [her] dorm or in classes,” leaving little room for procrastination. Even with harder classes, utilizing the skills she used in AP classes helped Kayla ease into the large change.

AP classes are based upon honesty, hard work, and good study habits. There is no plagiarism tolerated within the classes, and if caught, students will be punished harshly, as they would be in college. U.S. News explores how two students had been kicked off their semester at sea due to plagiarism, and while not as harsh, if caught plagiarizing in an AP class, administrative action will be taken and grades will drop drastically.

Given less than the 180-day school year to learn material is hard in a normal class, let alone an AP one. Making sure to stay on task, complete homework, and understand the material is all part of an AP student’s life, and through this hard work, study habits are formed. Study groups and Quizlets are just some ways my classmates have chosen to study while preparing for an upcoming quiz or test.

Mrs. Kathleen Zianio, who had once only taught honors and standard classes, added AP U.S. History to her schedule this year and pointed out the differences between the two. “I don’t like teaching to a test,” says Zianio, while also explaining how “the test can cover any area of the entire curriculum.”

Although a 3 is the average and a passing grade, with many schools only taking 4’s or 5’s, I and other students are left wondering if our money was well spent. For $101, I walked into my first day of classes with hope to earn credit for cheaper than college, yet now I am not as hopeful.

Even getting a 4 or 5 on AP tests will not aid if you plan on going to the Ivies, and if you intend to major in biology, you will tend to have to take the course again. Leaving you -$101 and minus how much the college course costs.

While talking to my former English teacher, Mrs. Michelle Masse, she explained how she believes “the cost should be lowered to allow for more students and schools to participate.”

At LHS, we are fortunate to have some AP classes, although many other schools such as Chicopee have many more than we offer, and Belchertown barely offers any at all. I believe the price should be lowered for the same reasons, and if credit is not received, being down $100 can be upsetting to most students and parents.

The feeling of walking out of the AP exam test room was both amazing and exhausting. All the work I had spent all year on had finally been for something. Except I felt a new fear, a fear of not hearing a high enough grade for it to be useful. But as I began to talk to teachers and students alike, I began to change my opinion.

I think AP classes can be useful to certain people. People who want to go to college, for example, will learn firsthand how teachers, classwork, and tests will be, as well as simplifying the transition and easing the anxiety. It is also a good GPA booster for those who had fallen behind in previous years or for students who want college prep courses on their transcripts.

For whatever reason we take AP classes, the students work together to create a healthy and safe work environment. And for that reason, I think personally AP classes are worth it in the end.

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