Taking AP classes is almost never a bad idea. While, some AP classes require you to have a particular aptitude in a subject (for example, you can’t just decide to take AP BC Calculus without taking all the pre-requisites), other AP classes, like AP US History, don’t really have pre-requisites at most high schools – you simply can elect to take AP US History.
The list of AP classes offered by the College Board, by my count, stands at 30. Furthermore, of those 30, I count 13 that probably don’t have too many pre-requisites.
Sure, AP classes are harder (sometimes much harder), and require more work, and therefore there are some reasons to decide against taking them. But, we believe that there are three major reasons to take AP classes which overpower any downsides.
Earn College Credit
AP classes earn you college credit. Armed with that college credit, you may not have to take a given course in college. At my alma mater, Indiana University, it costs an out of state student about $3,000 per course. An AP test costs $89.00. I’m not making this up.
Boost Your GPA
The second reason to take an AP class is that, generally, it actually provides you with the opportunity to boost your GPA. If you are on a 4-point scale in high school, meaning straight A's = 4.0, often times an AP class will count as 5, so you have the opportunity to throw an average of 5 into the mix, boosting your GPA. Sure, the class may be harder, but at the end of the day, the potential is certainly there to give your GPA a boost.
Improve Your College Applications
The third reason to take an AP class is that you can improve your college applications by showing colleges that you have taken some of the most difficult classes available. The difficulty of these classes suggests that you are both intelligent and have key critical thinking skills. It also shows a willingness to push yourself.
Learn Something Completely New
The fourth and final reason to take AP classes is that they provide the opportunity to try something new. For example, high schools don't have an economics track, where you are taking economics freshman, sophomore and junior year. There aren’t too many Psychology courses either. These are two subject to which you probably haven’t been exposed, but you may learn that you really enjoy them (vs. math, physics, biology, etc. which you’ve been taking for years).
What are your thoughts on AP classes?