How advanced placement courses affect students at Gull Lake

Gull Lake Classrooms are continuing to accommodate the larger amount of students wishing to take advanced placement courses. Photo by Justin Walker.

There were 1.17 million students who took at least one advanced placement class in 2017, and that number is only expected to grow in the oncoming years. With so many high school students beginning to take on these more arduous classes, high school students and educators might want a general consensus on why such a shift is occurring.

This trend has occurred at Gull Lake as well with AP courses such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Statistics, U.S. History, World History, Calculus, Literature, and Language and Composition being available. Students are required to take pre-requisite classes to be placed in these classrooms, and student must dedicate all three trimester to each of these advanced placement courses.

The impact of these courses can’t be understated, with many students benefiting in a multitude of ways from the College Board program.

“A.P. Chemistry influenced me drastically, as I now want to major in chemistry, so the course was definitely worth it,” senior Mia Tucci said.

Being able to gain a broader knowledge on topics students are passionate about allows for them to better understand a career path that would or wouldn’t fit them.

The length of these advanced placement courses allows for teachers to educate students on the regular curriculum over two trimesters while being able to use that knowledge to prepare heavily for the A.P. Exam during the third trimester. However, preparation for the A.P. Exam is a constant factor throughout all three trimesters.

Gull Lake High School’s A.P. Biology classroom, which is taught by Beth Rhodes. Photo by Justin Walker.

Three trimesters for a course this accelerated can be taxing on students.

“A.P classes challenge students with greater vigor and prepare them for college material,” Tucci said.

While the rigorous class work and activities can prepare high school students for college curriculum, not all aspects of these courses are positive.

“A.P. classes are a major source of stress for high school students, and the A.P. Exam weeks [in which testing takes place] can be particularly  anxiety ridden,” Tucci said.

This stress can build too, with many students who participate in these courses taking more than one, and in some cases as much as four or five advanced placement classes in a school year.

The A.P. Exam for each course differs, however, most last a total of three hours with two separate testing periods of one hour and thirty minutes with a small break in between. Usually, the first section is used to test students through multiple choice, and the second section deals with free-response questions.

A student can score anywhere from a one to five on the A.P. Exam, with most universities granting college credit for the corresponding course if a student can score a three or higher, which is one of the main incentives for taking these advanced classes. The amount of college credits allotted to a student for receiving an appropriate score or higher differs for each class and university, but most grant at least three basic course credits and can give up to eight.

In order to properly prepare students for these A.P. Exams, teachers are given common curriculum guidelines to follow while also using multiple methods to allow students to be ready for the test. This allows for teachers use a wide variety of assignments to prepare students, such as having students respond to essay questions or answer multiple choice questions that were used on the A.P. Exams in years past. It also creates rigor that’s on a college scale, something students need to prepare for.

The impact of A.P. courses and exams aren’t still completely understood though.

“Many more students are also taking those courses but failing the exams,” writer Amanda Zhou reported on Chalkbeat.

Many of the elements of advanced placements courses can change in each classroom, as like any other class, the learning environment and teaching strategies are different for every school and course. 

However, when the advanced placement courses are successful, the impacts can be fruitful. That is often reason enough for students to take these courses.

“Unsurprisingly, students who score a 3 or higher on an A.P. exam do better in college,” Zhou wrote.

The success of an advanced placement course relies heavily on the student’s enjoyment and willing to commit to a course, the learning environment within that classroom and the courses’ educator, but these aspects of success are nothing new for what it will take to succeed in a classroom.

Justin Walker

Justin Walker

I’m a senior at Gull Lake High School, and this is my first year on staff. I enjoy writing about our school sports’ programs and other areas as well. Having a deep interest and enjoyment in our English classes at Gull Lake, I’ve decided to pursue a different side of writing by doing newspaper and hope to provide entertaining articles for our viewers. Being involved in sports such as cross country and track, while also being invested to clubs such as Debate and Model UN, I write about topics that affect both myself and classmates.

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