A Prep Class for a Prep Class? What I Got from My AP Prep Course

Should you take a summer intensive "class" to prepare for the tough AP or honors classes ahead? This student did. Here she explains why and what she learned.

Should you take a summer intensive "class" to prepare for the tough AP or honors classes ahead? This student did. Here she explains why and what she learned.

You’re lounging on the beach, your worries blown away with the wind, when your phone goes off. A text from a friend glows. They’re asking about the summer work for your upcoming AP U.S. History course. You feel a pain in your chest, and you’re stricken with panic. You begin to question why you let your guidance counselor convince you to take four AP classes and where your sanity was while in their office. Visions of the piles of work that you’ll have daily begin to flash in your head, turning your relaxing vacation into a worrisome delay.

Okay, maybe that story was a bit embellished, but I am in no way ashamed to say that I become jittery with nerves when I think about the school year ahead. That person lounging on the beach? That was me. And, yes, I agreed when my guidance counselor suggested I take four AP classes this year. I definitely considered the time and effort they would require before I signed off on my junior year schedule . . . but a little part of me still thinks I had a momentary lapse in sanity that day.

If you aren’t familiar, the ultimate goal of an AP course is to prepare the student for the AP exam. Doing well on those exams often leads to earning college credits, which can lower tuition and workload in the long run. But with the weight of an entire school year of knowledge on a single test, the stress level is definitely high.

Related: Should I take AP courses?

This upcoming school year will be my first encounter with AP classes, so I was wide-eyed and clueless as I started the summer work they required. A few friends and I actually made a routine of meeting at our local library to work on assignments, helping eliminate the traditional “wait until two days before school starts to begin all work and have 47 mental breakdowns” approach.

During one of the first meetings, someone brought up the AP U.S. History prep course she was taking in the end of the month. She said it was $40 for a four-day intensive course, where the instructor shares proper essay formatting, thematic principles, class structure, and other things that would be expected of us come September. It was a prep class for a prep class, but it got my attention, since as I had been told repeatedly to expect a heavy workload and high standards. Within the matter of hours, I was enrolled in the class.

Fast-forward to the last week of July: I put together a notebook with all my AP summer assignment guidelines and rough outlines for my essays. Then I headed off to pick up my friends to go to the first day of the AP prep class. (It was 7:00 a.m. on a Monday in the middle of summer, so you can probably guess how much energy I had.)

We were lucky, since the instructor happened to be the APUSH (Advanced Placement U.S. History) teacher at our school, which let us experience her teaching and editing style in advance. The first class revolved around handouts: the class syllabus, a guideline of what the graders of the AP exams are looking for, and a sheet of key vocabulary words to use throughout our work. The two-hour period exposed us to what we would be learning and how fast we would be learning it.

From the end of the first class into the second was a series of practice essay evaluations, done in small groups. We were given essay questions, and asked to find evidence in the online textbook. We then had to compose a solid paragraph that featured analysis and one key concept from a provided list. The instructor critiqued each group’s work in the beginning of the third class, giving everyone praise and changes. (According to her, our analysis was strong and plentiful, but our comparison was weak.)

We kept the instructor’s advice in mind when going into the final class, where we were given the entire time to work on the long essays we had received for our summer assignment. We were also given an additional book to use as a resource for evidence, which made writing the essay much easier.

I left the class on the fourth day with a different outlook. AP U.S. History is known to be one of the hardest Advanced Placement courses, with an intense curriculum and almost painfully high expectations. I do not think the class will be an easy sweep, but I do feel much more comfortable with it after taking the prep course. Having the opportunity to go into the curriculum in detail and see how the class is run has definitely made me feel more prepared. The class does not seem as daunting as I once envisioned it.

When I asked my friend Sabrina Dunn what she gained from the class, she said that she appreciated being “pushed to work on [her] summer assignments and [she] now feels prepared for the class in the fall.” Tara Han, another friend and student of the APUSH prep course, said she “found the class to be really moving and helpful to get a jumpstart.

A new school year means new classes, new teachers, and new classmates—and it can be nerve wrecking. Whether you have a schedule racked with honors courses or are taking electives you aren’t too familiar with, I suggest preparing over the summer as much as you can. That might mean finding a class to enroll in like I did or watching an online prep video. In any case having a rough idea of what you’re going to be learning can really ease your mind and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. We might never be fully prepared for the future, but we do our best to feel ready.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
AP AP courses ap tests AP U.S. History APUSH summer test prep test prep course U.S. History

About Chelsea Triano

As a student who takes all advanced level courses and is involved in a solid handful of extracurricular activities, you could practically say my life is consumed by school, which may not be as horrific as I once thought. I yearn to learn new ideas, whether they be involving my passions of writing and psychology or otherwise. Overall, I am a very passionate heart and try my best to radiate positivity.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Ariyane

Ariyane

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress really helped me by letting me know the colleges ratings and placements. They gave me accurate information on my colleges tuition rates and acceptance. They even let me know the ration between students and faculty and the diversity of the college. Overall they told me everything I needed and things I didnt even think I needed to know about my college and other colleges I applied for.

Sonny Harris

Sonny Harris

None

For the entire year before college, I spent a lot of time deeply considering what major I wanted to go into and how to fund my higher education. After a lot of research, I came across CollegeXpress, which helped me ultimately find a ton of scholarships for which I could apply—and some of which I received! If it weren’t for CollegeXpress, I may not have found those scholarships as they didn't appear on any other scholarship search forum. Additionally, I learned more about the options I had been considering for my major through CollegeXpress’s resources. In the end, I chose to major in Computer Science, as it seemed best suited to me and the careers in the field seemed enjoyable, and I've never been more excited to move into my future! Ultimately, I want to thank CollegeXpress for offering their services! I received enough financial aid in scholarships to fund my entire freshman year of college and even got some money refunded which I used to purchase a new laptop, and I bought all of the books I needed for the semester!

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Keaun Brown

Keaun Brown

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner-2020, High School Class of 2020

As I transition to furthering my education, I can say with certainty that it simply wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous organizations such as CollegeXpress. Those who initially founded CX had no idea their platform would give a plethora of information to a first-generation homeless kid native to the ghettos of over half a dozen states. Everyone at CX and Carnegie Dartlet gave me a chance at a future when the statistics said I had none. And for that, I thank them.

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

College Matches