Is Advanced Placement Worth It For College Admission?

High school Guidance counselors often encourage students to take AP classes [1]. Are they right?

It’s almost considered a truism: Advanced Placement courses can only help you in your quest to enter the best colleges.

AP classes have advantages – but there are drawbacks as well.

The Positives of Advanced Placement

  • Taking an AP class will usually get your GPA increased. Depending on how your high school rates them, AP classes can be worth an entire grade more than their regular counterpart – that’s how some students end up with GPAs greater than the theoretically-perfect 4.0. And even if your school doesn’t inflate AP grades, many college admission offices will do it for you.
  • Good AP scores can reduce your eventual college course load – and, potentially, your time in college. Generally speaking, a high score – a four or five out of the five-point Advanced Placement test – will equate to one semester of the equivalent course. So, if you place out of four courses – you could skip out of an entire semester of college – saving MONEY! Even placing out of one or two classes can lead to a semester of part-time student status and, hence, significant financial savings.
  • AP classes show initiative. Universities know you aren’t scared to push yourself by taking the more challenging path. In addition, since AP classes are supposed to be college-level, you are showing schools that you are fully capable of doing the necessary work.

5 Reasons Why to Take AP Classes:

The Negatives of Advanced Placement

  • Your AP scores have zero bearing on your admission to college. That’s a lot of work that may not have much to do with which college you get into – especially if your colleges don’t inflate grades according to the difficulty of courses.
  • Not all colleges accept AP scores for course credit. If you wind up applying to schools that don’t take AP scores, then you’ll have done a lot of work for absolutely nothing. (CNBC ”Study Up” Article on stats)
  • AP classes and their difficulty level take an excessive amount of study time. It isn’t unusual to have two or three hours of daily homework for an AP class. That’s time you can’t pursue other studies such as research papers or can’t devote yourself to extra-curricular activities – all things that definitely will help you get into college.

The long and the short of it is this: AP courses can pay off in the long run, but there are no guarantees.

The Truth about AP Classes:

If you are most concerned with getting into the best colleges, AP courses aren’t as much help as you think. Almost all applicants will have taken many AP courses and scored well on each exam. It is virtually assumed every applicant’s course list will be full of AP classes. If, however, you are confident you’ll get admitted to a good college and want to roll the dice that the’ll take AP credits, and you can save time and money by graduating early or as a part-time student, AP courses are worth it.

As always, the answer depends on you. One thing is sure, though – when deciding whether to pursue AP courses, at least find out how your favorite colleges deal with AP credits. If there’s no hope of placing out of college classes, then it may not be worth your time.

If you have any questions about getting college scholarships or the admissions process, please contact me through my website at or call me at 760.877.7200. I’d love to answer your questions!

Andrea (Andi) Frimmer, M. Ed.

Prep 4 College Now, Inc. President


[1] Excerpted from Scott Weingold, College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC

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