AP courses

Bernard J. de la Cruz delacruz at jeeves.ucsd.edu
Tue Feb 28 00:49:32 EST 1995

The Advanced Placement course are designed to be "college-prep level"
courses offered to high school students with the opportunity of taking
a nationwide examination at toward the end of the course (usually in
April or May) that may apply toward first year/beginning courses at
university.  The test is administered by ETS and teacher work from a
standardized list of topics which are designed prior to the class
being taught a particular year.  The topics generally cover about
the same set of material each year but may have a different emphasis
(e.g., in 1987, the AP US History exam had a focus on the Constitution
since this approximately coincided with the 200th Anniversary.)  Tests
are often a combination of multiple choice and essay/freeform.  Tests
are standardized and scored for a particular year (i.e., if everyone
does well, the curve goes high; if everyone does poorly, the curve
goes lower).  Grades are reported like SATs with a rank of 1-5 with
5 being the best.  Scores of 4,5 are considered excellent.  3 is
"passing".  1,2 are not passing.

In my opinion as a student having taken AP courses in 1988, I think
they are quite worthwhile and worth the expense (approximately $60
per test plus any additional class materials (textbooks, etc.) that
may have to be purchased).  They generally offer excellent preparation
for college-level thinking, writing, and performance.  Of course
this has the caveat that it depends much on actual teacher offering
the course.  The value of AP courses to eliminate college requirements
(i.e., being able to graduate early from university) I believe is
OVERstated.  Particularly AP courses in your major (I took the AP
Biology exam and was a biology major) may not count since the department
often REQUIRES taking their first year course regardless.  Still the
experience of taking the AP class was extremely useful as a first year
biology student.

If your daughter is more interested in acquiring college credits, I
suggest looking into some sort of concurrent enrollment program through
a local community college or state college.  I still maintain that AP
classes can be very useful and enlightening whether or not the college
credit is taken.

 Bernard de la Cruz
 UCSD Graduate Biology, 0348 
 La Jolla, CA 92093-0348
 Email: delacruz at jeeves.ucsd.edu

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