AP Class Difficulty

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Discus: What Are My Chances?: September 2003 Archive: AP Class Difficulty
By Benspinspace (Benspinspace) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 12:10 am: Edit

Hey guys,

At my school, we offer tons of honors classes, and only four APs. When you take an AP course, you are signing up for 1-2 hours of homework a night, with incredibly tough grading (where around half the class gets Cs, with a few Bs, Ds, and maybe one or two As). An honors course is not quite as hard, but is still very challenging with quite a bit of homework.

This year, I'm taking AP English. I turn in a paper every two or three days, and do hundreds of pages of reading inbetween, et cetera.

But, then I got a call from my friend that moved to Florida about a year ago. I was talking to him about random junk when it occured to me to ask him if he was in any AP classes. He's a notorious slacker, garnering mostly Cs with an occasional B and an occasional D in honors and college-prep courses here in NH.

He told me that he's in four AP classes, and that the ones he's taking in florida are about the same challenge level as a fairly decent honors course in his old school (which is my school). And he doesn't get that much work, and he maintains better grades down there than when he was in honors & college prep courses here.


Do you guys have any response to this?
Won't colleges' opinions of us students at my school be skewed, because it appears that we're slackers in comparison to students elsewhere? I'm sure that a college seeing a very respectable C+ or B- in a single AP course at my school will laugh, and instead take the student with straight As in three or four AP courses from another state.

Time to go finish my essay, essay rewrite, and fourty pages of reading for AP class tomorrow :-)

By Rubenizm (Rubenizm) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 12:22 am: Edit

yeah that sucks for you. A school will judge the curriculum by your rank. If your rank is very high with B's they, in my opinion, would rather accept you than a person with better grades and much lower rank.

By Pacman (Pacman) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 09:48 am: Edit

AP courses are extremely easy except for the Literature. Come on, I'm sure more than 5000 students take it every year so how hard can it be?

It's not like they only choose 20 people to take it.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 11:58 am: Edit

That is an issue. Colleges do take into account which high school you are in. The selective schools have regional admissions people who are responsible for knowing which schools have tougher curriculums and they do make some adjustment as to whether you are in a private prep school where only 10% make the honor society or if you are in a notoriously difficult public school or if you are in a school where a 3.5 is what 80% of the kids get. However, the methods are inprecise and depending on who is doing the assessment and how well known your school is, you can slip through the cracks.
It was a decision I had to make about sending my child to a super tough prep school versus a catholic school where it is much easier to get into an AP class and ace it. Looking at the information I have, if you score well on tests, the easier school is probably the better bet. A 3.0 from Super School with the same AP courses and test scores just does not do as well as a 3.8 or 4.0 at Easy Grade High. Now, it all depends on the schools you are comparing and the kids involved but just in general, that is what I have noticed. My child could not get into AP courses at Super Prep or Super Public High--the gatekeeping there keeps him out. But at Easy Grade high--hey 5 AP courses Senior year--Govt,Psych, Calc, English,Physics--looking good and no AP test scores to report since they don't come out till July so a 4.0 from the Easy Grade in senior year with the toughest curriculum...well unfortunately my neighbor's daughter at Super Public only could take AP calc at her school--got a B in the course, colleges don't even care about honors designations on the other courses and she worked harder in them than my child did and got slightly lower grades. But she was a poor tester--so the SATs were higher for the good testers at Easy Grade. You can predict that outcome , I'm sure.
Many of the more competitive schools and prep schools also refuse to rank because they know the whole first quintile would have a chance of getting in if they do not release those numbers. Super Public ranks and it kills all but those in the top 2-5%. Because these colleges really hone in on those rank numbers if they are provided. Unfair? Yep.

By Sadeyedlady (Sadeyedlady) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 03:30 pm: Edit

I'm taking 6 AP classes and the homework load is pretty light. Yet my school always gets many many fives on each test. The teachers know they don't have to assign busy work becaust at this level, teachers expect you to study a little each day and do some problems or whatever on your own and in your own time.

The exception is AP Lit which I don't count as homework because I would read for about an hour a day anyway.

By Gianscolere (Gianscolere) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 03:52 pm: Edit

Jamimom...yes that's the same situation i'm in. only the top few kids in this extremely competitive school can really take the AP-level courses.

By Serdu (Serdu) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 08:33 pm: Edit

Same here. I attend a grade inflated TTT. But, even as such, I took 6 aps (the workload wasnt TOO light, btw). But I am a prospective AP scholar, so yippie! and I got 5.00 1st semester and 4.67 2nd semester, so in my case it may be that I might have learned the material.

By Me1 (Me1) on Friday, September 26, 2003 - 10:14 pm: Edit

Does your school send out an AP class profile? My school sends out an AP profile which states the # of grades received in each AP class to demonstrate that our school is not inflated & that the majority of ppl do not receive A's in AP. You could ask your guidance counselor to include something like that if none is generally offered.

By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 08:58 pm: Edit

Another way to look at it: you will be much better prepared to do great college work after having taken such a difficult class in high school.

My daughter is facing this problem as well - she's taking AP Euro this year and the teacher assigns 40-50 pages of reading every night plus other homework as well - and she also expects every student to attend two 1 hour after school study sessions a week even this early in the year. The teacher is very proud of the fact that she almost "never" gives A's yet has never had anyone score less than a 4 on the AP exam. It's a crazy amount of work but my daughter says she can feel her brain expanding every day.

By Stressed41 (Stressed41) on Monday, September 29, 2003 - 12:43 am: Edit

Concerning the level of difficulty of AP courses at different schools, let's not forget that everyone takes the standardized AP exam at the end of the course. Getting a high A in a supposed difficult AP curriculum doesn't mean a whole lot if the same person scores a 2 on the actual exam. As for Jamimom's assertion on a Catholic school being "easy," I attend one and have scored 5's on all my AP exams to date.

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