High School Students Reap What They Sow with AP Coursework

kcby Zena Smith

Among the many college prep options for high school students, the advanced placement track is—and has been for some time—the gold standard. AP coursework allows college bound students the chance to:

  • practice the skills and habits they’ll need at the next academic level
  • earn college credit in advance

Yet as the number of AP test takers continues to grow each year, the percentage of those who succeed in earning a 3 or better (the minimum score to qualify for college credit) is slowly going the other way.

Just why that number is sliding is not entirely clear. Some argue that AP eligibility requirements have been loosened to the detriment of students who are led to take, but  ultimately cannot handle, the coursework. Others believe that the success rate on an elite skills test is by nature bound to shrink with a larger sample size.

In either event, it becomes our interest as educators to push that number upward,  to ensure that as many AP students as possible are prepared for their exams.

*NOTE AP test registration is underway in most districts at this time. Homewood-Flossmoor High School students can find registration information here.

So what now? What can I (or my student) do to increase my chances at AP success? As is so often our mantra…

apStart Early.
Although CollegeBoard (yes, AP and the SAT are put together by the same company) offers options in over 30 subjects, your school most likely won’t offer nearly all of them. Do the research before your senior year to determine which AP classes will be available. Commit early to the idea of studying the material and preparing thoroughly for the AP exam.

Be Serious.
Students are very good at planning and preparing for the big tests: the SAT and the ACT.  Yet it is rare that students dedicate the same level of studies and seriousness to the AP exams. Don’t fool yourself; the AP exams are as important—or even more important—than the ACT. That test got you into college, but doing well on this one will earn you the credits you’re there for (and likely means you’ll succeed down the road).

Get Help.
Even straight-A students struggle with AP material. It is meant to be hard. If there were ever a time to ask for some help, it is now. A small commitment to testing well now might translate to scholarship opportunities—or even early graduation—later. MASTERs Plus offers programming in AP prep, encourages local parents and students to call or stop by for more information.

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