Are AP Classes Worth Taking?


Gia Patel, General

When students are deciding whether or not to register for AP courses, it is difficult to find honest feedback about these rigorous classes. Many of us looking to take AP courses ask those who have taken them, “Is it hard?” and “How much work is it, really?” to determine if they are worth our time. To gain insight into AP courses beyond these typical questions, we interviewed three individuals who were able to offer genuine feedback and thoughts regarding AP classes. 


*All responses were requested to remain anonymous. Keep in mind that these responses do not summarize the opinions of all Weddington teachers and students, and thoughts will vary depending on who you speak to. 


AP Instructor at Weddington


We first interviewed an AP instructor who has been teaching their respective AP course for 14 years. 


In your opinion, what are the benefits and downsides of taking AP classes? 


​Benefits…students learn how to study and problem solve. They are usually challenged (possibly for the first time) to process and learn difficult material. When students have success in an AP course, they often gain confidence in their abilities. One of the downsides is the workload. In order to be ​successful in an AP course, there is usually reading and/or homework involved, so students will probably have to work outside of class.


How should students decide which AP classes to take?


I think that students should take AP courses in material that they actually like/enjoy.  The amount of time spent working on AP assignments and just in the class alone is already “a thing” so if you aren’t interested in or don’t like the material, it would probably be terrible.


In your experience, what is the biggest struggle your AP students have faced over the years?




In what instances would you not recommend an AP course? 


If a student is already struggling (academically or personally), I would recommend that they think hard about taking AP courses because they do add a level of stress, and sometimes, that added stress is just not worth it!



College Student


We interviewed a Weddington High School alumni, class of 2021. She is currently attending NC State as a Chemistry major. 


Which AP course, out of the ones you have taken, do you consider to be the most worthwhile? Why? 


AP classes in general were the most worthwhile classes I took in high school. They actually offered me genuine knowledge because the courses forced me to really learn the curriculum since I was so worried about doing well in the class. I think personally for my major, the most worthwhile classes were AP Chemistry, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC because those are the pathways I had to follow down in college. I still rely on a lot of the stuff I learned in my AP classes to understand what I am learning right now. I would say my favorite and most worthwhile AP class was probably AP Lang. It was the first AP class I took, and I got so much out of it. Even though I was a little miserable while taking it, looking back on it now, it was really fun. I had a fun class and fun teachers. I enjoyed most of the books we read and I really saw myself grow as a writer. A lot of the skills I learned in that class, which included reading, writing, time management, and studying skills, are still skills I use today. 


What skills did you learn in your AP courses that have helped you through your first year of college (aside from just course material)? 


AP classes were the first classes that I actually struggled with, and I wasn’t able to get by without studying. I think they taught me about applying myself, perseverance, study habits, and you know, all that. There will still be times now in college where I feel like giving up and I don’t feel like studying anymore, but then I remember the times that I would stay up until 2 A.M. doing work for AP classes and it kind of inspires me to keep going. I think it was beneficial that I was able to figure out the ways I liked to study and what works for me in terms of understanding concepts when I was in high school because in college, you don’t have as much help; you don’t have teachers offering you study guides, worksheets, assignments, and resources that might help you. You are in charge of your own learning, so knowing what worked for me in high school has helped me now. 


What struggles did you face when taking AP courses? 


Honestly, I hated my life when I was taking all those AP classes because the work felt never-ending. I remember feeling so academically drained and quarantine felt like a blessing because I could finally sleep. I had a hard time keeping up with everything because I’m such a procrastinator. At times, it didn’t feel like it was worth it because those were the first classes I was getting Bs in and I was so stressed about my GPA. I think now, especially that I can actually see the outcome and use the benefits that AP classes gave me, I can say that AP classes were definitely worthwhile; they were fun and taught me a lot. Yeah, so I’d say procrastinating was a huge thing that caused me to struggle in AP classes but that prepared me for college too, because now I don’t have an 8 A.M – 4 P.M. schedule every day. I have some classes at 9 A.M., some at 8 P.M., and then huge breaks in between, so I can’t just go to class during the day and then come back and finish my homework. Time management is a huge thing you need to work on in college, so I think if you prepare by doing it in AP classes, you’ll be better prepared in the future.


Since you took AP Chemistry and are a Chemistry major, do you find that the course material and rigor are similar in both the AP class and college? Do you think taking AP Chem was helpful/necessary as you work towards your major? 


The credit for AP chemistry only goes towards General Chemistry 1 in college. I’m required to take more specific chemistry classes, so unfortunately taking AP chemistry did not give me credit that actually went towards my degree. But I don’t regret taking it because the knowledge that I got from AP chemistry has definitely helped me tremendously through my first year at college since the curriculum between the two is very similar. I had Ms. Winfree as my AP chemistry teacher and she was great and was amazing at explaining the concepts. In college, we have less time to focus on topics, but in AP Chemistry we had more time to thoroughly learn things and make sure we really understood them. In college, you’re more on your own and a lot of the learning is done by yourself—outside of class. Having a firm foundation of the topics was a gift that was given to me by taking AP classes. I honestly feel bad for all the students in my classes now who were not able to take AP Chemistry in high school because college chemistry is a huge jump from regular high school chemistry, and I’d be struggling way more if I hadn’t taken it. 


Do you think high school students should take AP courses that may align with their college major, ones that they find interesting, or any AP at all? 


Taking AP classes that align with your college major choice isn’t a bad idea because it definitely can get you out of taking some classes, and it might help prepare you for college in terms of being used to the curriculum and workload. But I don’t think you should restrict yourself to taking AP classes that solely align with your major, especially if you’re not completely certain what you want your major to be. I think taking both AP Chemistry and Biology helped me compare the two and ultimately helped me make the decision to major in chemistry. It’s a good way to explore and learn. You should feel free to just take whatever interests you. A lot of the AP classes count towards multiple GEP requirements (the general classes you have to take in college), as well. For example, getting the credit for APES would count for a lot of courses even if you aren’t planning on doing anything in the science field. APUSH, AP Psychology, and AP Lang all counted towards GEPs for me which is honestly a huge help because you won’t have to worry about those requirements. 


Weddington Senior


Lastly, we spoke to a current Weddington senior, class of 2022. 


How time-consuming would you say AP classes are? Do they interfere with extracurricular activities?


I would say this varies on what course you are taking. For example, AP Psychology is a time consuming course but it is mostly busy work. In this class, we have extremely long unit work that takes me about 4-6 hours to complete each week. This does not seem like very much for an AP class, but with other class work, it is quite time consuming. Other AP classes like AP Biology are more study-based so it depends on how much you think you need to study. I think AP classes are doable. As long as you don’t waste your time, I believe it is possible to balance the class with extracurriculars.


Did the grading/difficulty and GPA impact of AP classes play a role in when you decided to take an AP course? Was taking an AP course worth the risk of lowering your GPA? If so, why?

It definitely played a role when I decided to take AP courses. Last year, I took 3 AP classes to boost my GPA. I thought it was worth taking the risk. I just thought to myself that as long as I got a B in the class I would be fine. Even if I did bad on the tests, I worked hard on the other assignments which got me to at least a B. I think its better to take the risk because if you end up doing really well in that class you could end up getting college credit and won’t need to take the course again in college.