The Importance of Balancing Your Workload
AP classes have several benefits
- Boosting GPA
- Gaining experience with rigorous coursework to prepare for college or,
- Aiming to take AP exams for college credit is some of the most popular reasons these courses are taken.
Moreover, colleges value applicants who seek to challenge themselves academically, so utilization of these classes can help build up your resume.
Another benefit and big reason Cultivate encourages students to take AP exams are to give them the experience of sitting for a collegiate-level exam. Some college professors only give midterms and final exams, and that is your grade for the entire semester! AP tests are the closest way to emulate this type of experience. Students are not required to report their scores, so even if they earn a low score, taking AP exams for the experience alone can be worth it.
On the other hand, when considering a healthy academic balance, we understand when this is just too overwhelming and students must make judgments that align with their personal and collegiate priorities. We can help students navigate this path if they feel lost.
While AP classes are typically designed to prepare you for the AP test, which is given at the end of the course term, taking the exam is not required. At Cultivate, we understand the immense load that high schoolers carry in the Spring, so we encourage students to practice balance when juggling advanced placement classes and their associated tests. Final exams, ACT/SAT tests, AP tests, and final college decisions happen for many students during the Spring. Since AP testing is not a requirement for college admissions or passing an AP class, opting out of these tests may be the best route for some students.
AP exams were created with the intent that students could earn advanced standing or credit at the college they plan on attending. For students looking to begin college ahead of schedule with advanced credits, pursuing AP exams is a great option. However, the unfortunate truth is that not all AP classes will adequately prepare students to take the AP exam. It’s common for AP classes to fall behind in their pacing
regarding the curriculum, which forces students to study and learn significant amounts of content on their own before the exam.
This can be extremely overwhelming as the subject matter needed to pass these exams is very challenging, extensive, and specific. With all of their other responsibilities, many high school students simply don’t have the time to learn and teach themselves the material on their own.
Don’t overwhelm yourself! Balancing priorities and responsibilities is an important practice to keep in mind for students considering AP exams. Colleges value students who succeed at balancing their commitments, so if AP testing will compromise your performance in other areas, it may not be the best choice for you. Fortunately, students are not required to submit any information regarding AP exams and admissions officers cannot judge an applicant based upon withholding this information.
Admissions officers can only account for the data they have received, so if a student chooses not to submit AP exam scores, it will not count against them. There are a litany of valid reasons a student may choose to exempt themselves from AP tests- poor preparation by teachers, missing the exam due to sickness, or purposefully prioritizing other endeavors.
Admissions officers cannot penalize a student if they decide not to take the exam and will only take into account the grade they earned in the class. Since abstaining from AP exams will not hurt your college application, keep balance in mind and only take on these exams if you have ample time and energy to prepare for them.