Last Updated: Jul 31, 2015
Advanced Placement. It's funny how two little words can sound so daunting—or so reassuring, depending on who you are.
Some are lured into taking AP courses by the prospect of weighted grades: in an AP class, a B is worth as much as an A, and so forth.
Others know that AP courses can make you a more appealing candidate for your college of choice, and some may even give you college credit.
So, why isn't everyone lining up for AP courses?
Annie Rizvi is a high school junior at the American ISG school in Saudi Arabia. She’s been taking AP courses since sophomore year. “The AP exam itself can be an issue,” she says. “Taking this exam can cause great stress for high school students, and most schools will not allow their students to just take the AP course without taking the exam.”
For Rizvi, AP classes are about the environment and being able to take courses tailored to her personal interests, she says. Not to mention the added bonus of displaying to colleges her dedication to particular subjects. Based on her expertise and others’, this list covers everything an aspiring AP student needs:
Interest in the course
It sounds like a no-brainer, but the end result of the course should be worth the amount of effort you put into it. So, the all-nighters you might have to end up pulling, and the near-religious memorization of often-obscure terms should amount to something more than a good score. It should fulfill a genuine desire to become an expert in the subject.
Recommendation from a teacher or advisor
Sometimes, your assessment of yourself simply isn't accurate. This is the time to talk to other people about your AP ambitions. Ask trusted professors, especially any in related courses, if they think you're qualified to take the course. Family, tutors, and other mentors might have helpful advice to share too.
Motivation and dedication
Are you ready to work? No matter how interested you are in a course, talent alone won't get you a good score come test day. Make sure you're prepared for setbacks and challenges, lots of studying, and plenty of practice tests.
You need people to talk to and places to be that ultimately help you rather than hinder you. If you're under stress, you will perform worse in your classes and on those important AP tests than you normally would. And taking AP classes and preparing for AP tests can cause a great amount of stress.
The right attitude
Remember, AP classes operate at the college level. That means expectations are a high. Late and/or substandard assignments, skipping class, and cramming the night before the exam may be enough to get by in your other courses, but not in AP.
If you're lacking one or more of these prerequisites, you might want to rethink your decision to take an AP class. But if not, you’ve got a good foundation. Good luck!