The Advanced Placement Advantage
Build Critical Thinking Skills
A.P. courses are designed to demand academic excellence from their participants. Students who enroll in one of these courses should expect a challenge: Instructors are trying to extract pupils from the high school thinking mode early and are encouraging a higher level of analysis and critical thinking in an effort to prepare them for the A.P. exam. Though these courses are difficult, they give students an opportunity to investigate subjects in depth and to spend time developing their own ideas and learning strategies that will help them succeed in the course, and hopefully, in their college career.
Develop Study Habits
Typically, the workload in A.P. courses is fairly heavy. They are designed in such a way that they demand a serious commitment of time and energy from their participants. If other high school courses haven't forced students to develop a study routine, the A.P. program certainly will. For students involved in a lot of extracurricular activities or who work in the evening after school, A.P. may not be the best option. Before committing to an A.P. course, students should ensure that their schedule allows enough time and flexibility to make the most of the class.
Study the Subjects in Which You Are Interested
Are you an early bird who's already selected your major? If so, use it to your advantage when selecting your course schedule during your junior and senior year of high school. If a student is considering pursuing a major in English for example, an A.P. literature course will give him a chance to study the subject of interest at a pace comparable to a typical freshman college course. Not only do most institutions offer credit for these courses, but participating in them gives students a unique opportunity to test the waters in a particular subject, and decide if it is likely to be a good fit during and after college.
Receive College Credit
As mentioned, it is possible to receive college credit for your A.P. courses. Not all institutions credit students for participating in the courses and performing well on the exams, but there are many that do, including universities outside of the United States. To receive credit for the A.P. class that you took and opt out of a freshman-level course, most schools require that students score a 4 or 5 on the A.P. placement exam. Some universities will even extend credit to students who receive a 3. For those students who do not place high enough on the exam to receive credit, having participated in the A.P. program is still to their advantage.
High school students often feel as though what they learn in their courses is of little value once they enter the real world. For students like this, A.P. is a great option that will allow them to begin studying subjects that can add direction in their academic career and give them an opportunity to begin working towards their future goals a couple years early. A.P. courses are challenging, but they require a mutual commitment from the student and the teacher that works toward the benefit of both. By providing challenging coursework for their students, teachers find that their students are more engaged and committed to succeeding. At the same time, students who are willing to buckle down and take the course seriously will find that they are well prepared to enter college and that the work they do in A.P. can and will impact their future both academically and professionally.
Not only will the A.P. program provide you with interesting and challenging curriculum, but it also typically encourages students to work together on group projects and during class discussions. Because the program promotes critical thinking, class discussions, and supports consideration for the contributions of other classmates are an important part the learning process supported by the dynamic curriculum. The interaction that you learn in such course prepares students for the lecture/discussion style that they often encounter their first year of college. Throughout life, much of an individual's success may hinge on their ability to share their ideas and opinions with a group and to problem solve with other team members. The teamwork required in these courses begins early the preparation necessary for students to succeed in college and, later, in their careers.
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