What’s Wrong with AP Classes?

Barry Lenson


I bet that you’ve noticed something. It’s that something is not working right with AP classes. Sure, tons of students take Advanced Placement classes and exams. But how are those classes and tests helping those students?

Here’s a case study from the town where I live. In my town, just about all students in the high school take AP classes. All those students, and their parents too, are eager to pull all the strings they can to get their kids into the best colleges possible. That all sounds pretty positive, until you examine the realities of the situation, which is that first students get tutored to get into AP classes, then they get tutored so they will do well in the classes, then they get tutored so they will do well on the AP exams. Some of the kids don’t really belong in AP classes, especially kids who are not good at math who get pressured into taking AP math classes, or else.

The net result is that AP classes become just one more thing that makes kids in my town feel like they are in a pressure cooker, not a high school. Lots of kids turn to drinking, partying hard, and smoking as ways to alleviate the pressure. But let’s not even explore those topics today.

A recent article in The Atlantic explores lots of other things that are wrong with the AP program too. It’s pretty strong stuff, and an article that you will certainly find interesting to read.

In light of all the things that could be wrong with AP classes and exams, here’s a suggestion. Why not take a real college course online instead of a high school AP test? It could be a better way to get a real college experience while you are still in high school. And if you take a course here at StraighterLine and don’t do well in it, you don’t have to hire a tutor to save your neck. It’s a zero risk situation.

So, StraighterLine or APs? Think about it, do some investigating, and make the decision that is best for you.

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