First, consider your skills and interests. If you’re good at something (stoichiometry, for example), you’ll be able to do better in the course (in this example, AP chem). Furthermore, if you enjoy it, you will be more motivated to work. AP classes are material-heavy and it is easier to succeed if you genuinely enjoythe material. Think of what general subjects you enjoy (ex: history and English) and look at all the APs offered in those general subjects.
Another important factor is the quality of the teacher. Honestly, having a good or bad teacher can make or break the AP experience. Ask fellow students and/or upperclassman if the teacher is good! Hearing from other students will give you a good idea about what the class is like. If there is more than one teacher, aim to find out which is best for you. Ask your peers about the workload each teacher gives their students: some teachers make a course more homework-heavy than others, even if it’s the same curriculum. Lastly, find out their teaching style. Is it mostly lectures? Hands-on activities? Textbook reading? Get an idea of what the teacher is like to see if their class is right for you. If there is a big difference between the experience you’ll get with the teachers, talk to your guidance counselor about doing the class with a specific one. They might say no or that it’s not possible to request, but it’s worth a shot.
This one is the mostobvious factor but take into consideration the course rigor. Some APs are muchharder than others, that’s just the nature of education. Granted, some willcome easier to certain people, so definitely factor that in too. Look at theother classes, extracurriculars, and responsibilities on your schedule and askyourself if you can handle this addition. It’s not a smart idea to enroll in anAP if you don’t think you have the time or capacity to do well in it.
This leads into the nextfactor: time commitment. Some APs take more time than others do. Considereither taking a couple intense APs (such as calc or chem) or a few easier ones(like psychology or computer science principles). Look at all the activitiesand commitments you have on your plate and ask yourself how much free time youhave…and how much of it you want to spend doing AP work.
Lastly, a factor thatmost people fail to consider is college credit. Some schools are pickier thanothers about what they do or don’t give you college credit for. Check CollegeBoard’s credit policy page to see the standards the schools you are interestedin set to get credit. Just look up “College Board Credit Policy Search” to findthe site. Make sure to note, though, that just because schools don’t give youcredit for it, doesn’t mean you should rule out taking it. There are morebenefits than just college credit (impressive transcripts, academicchallenging, intellectual stimulation, etc) but it is an important factor toconsider nonetheless. If you enjoy the subject material, taking it again incollege shouldn’t be a huge deal. If it’s a subject you dislike, though, thatis worth looking into.
Best of luck in choosing your AP courses and remember: we have study guides for all of them!
-the Simple Studies team