Junior Emma Ramirez played to her strengths and chose more advanced courses in the subjects she enjoys. Making choices to save her sanity during the school year and prepare her for what she plans in the future.
“I’m taking AP U.S. history, AP psych and AP biology, and then I’m taking Pre-AP algebra two, regular english and forensic science, but there’s no AP course for that,” Ramirez said.
Taking regular classes can relieve some stress for students, but fighting through an advanced course can have its benefits.
“AP courses offer those benefits of more rigorous course content. The idea is that it’s helping to really prepare you for college, and there’s also the added benefit of if you do well on the AP exam, you can earn college credit. So the way college credit works is-it’s up to the university or college to accept it, but, in Texas there is actually a state law that says a Texas public school has to award credit for any AP exam of a three, four, or five,” counselor Courtney Tarbox said. “The AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five, so if you make a three or better then you should earn some type of college credit.”
Another perk is the multiplier which AP students receive.
“The district years ago had set up a system to encourage students to challenge themselves with rigorous courses and be rewarded, because we know it takes a lot of extra time and a lot of extra effort to be successful in those classes. So the ranks and multiplier system set up now shows that if a student is in an AP course it will get a 1.29 multiplier,” Tarbox said.
Unlike AP classes, the multiplier is less for Dual Credit classes and of course non-existent for regular classes.
“An AP course that’s an AP, dual credit just gets the AP 1.29 multiplier. The only time a Dual Credit course gets a multiplier that’s different is if its’ non-AP class. So for example, art appreciation is a dual credit course, but it’s not an AP class, so it gets a 1.15 multiplier and that the same is true for the business dual credit courses; anything that’s not an AP, but dual credit get a 1.15,” Tarbox said.
There are a lot of benefits to taking AP classes, but sometimes students have to decide if the stress is worth it.
“It’s definitely stressed me out more than its benefited me so far. But, I feel like if I drop those classes and I stop doing those AP classes, it’s going to hurt my GPA. I know a passing grade in a regular class is better than a failing grade in an AP class, but it just doesn’t go through my brain. AP stresses me out so much and I fear going to class sometimes, cause I just dont know whats happening,” Ramirez said.
Waivers can be obtained for AP classes, but only when UIL activities are compromised by lower grades.
“With UIL eligibility, they give a list of advanced courses-which are usually the Pre-AP and AP courses-and if a student is not passing with a 70 or higher at the grade checkpoint, they can turn in a waiver to have that grade, for eligibility purposes, accepted, because it’s an advanced high course,” Tarbox said.
Usually students can get these waivers through their teachers or sponsors.
“The eligibility waivers, I believe, [the students will] find out about thought the main office. But, usually the sponsors or coaches that involve those UIL activities will also have waivers and that process that they can explain to students as well,” Tarbox said.
Sometimes students ease up on the amount of AP courses they are taking, so they can have an easier class to buffer their stress.
“My regular english class is like a breath of fresh air, but it’s so easy that I feel like I’m just sleeping through the class. But, know that if I take AP english with the rest of my AP courses, it’s not going to be good for me, it’s going to hurt me,” Ramirez said.
Anyone can take an AP test to attempt to earn college credit, but most regular courses don’t cover the AP exam material.
“There are a few scenarios where you can, but usually there is not an AP exam associated with on level courses. But, there are two examples, Pre-AP world geography and Pre-AP world history, that do give their students the option to do some extra studying and extra things to get prepared for the AP exam. The other exception that we see sometimes is students that move here, and maybe they are native spanish speakers, so they may not be in AP spanish language, but they can take the AP spanish exam to see if they could earn credit. We’ve also had some students challenge AP japanese in a similar situation,” Tarbox said.
As a take away, both AP and regular courses are beneficial, depending on the individual student and what they can handle.
“You should only take an AP course if you’re really interested in going into that [class], like APUSH right now, history is cool to me but I’m not trying to pursue it at all so my APUSH course right now. My AP bio[logy] though, I love science, I want to go into forensics. I love those classes so much-it entregues me and it pulls me in so much that I want to do the work for it,” Ramirez said. “But, AP english, AP U.S. history, or math maybe-that’s not going to help me, I’m not interested in that.”