The Patriot Voice

The AP Scam

Ava Hawkes, Staff Writer

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AP classes are a scam.

AP, or Advanced Placement, is the highest possible class level at Revere High School. It cultivates a false sense of superiority and, at the same time, insecurity. Funnily enough, AP classes at Revere High are often less structured and less communicative than Honors and CP courses. And yet, this is what you need to take if you want to earn early college credit.

As a disclaimer, I’m by no means an “AP kid,” (meaning that my schedule is mostly not AP,) but I still speak from experience. I’ve taken Pre-AP since eighth grade for ELA, which has led me to my place in AP Language & Composition. I had a brush with AP U.S. History in sophomore year, and that brush, as well as my ongoing experiences, have led me to my conclusion.

The big difference between AP classes and CP classes is conformity. It’s no secret that CP classes tend to be rowdier, less well behaved, less “good” than advanced classes. They tend to not listen to instructions as readily as higher-level classes. By no means is that a good thing. Classrooms need obedience and respect in order to function. However, the value of obedience and single-mindedness in AP classes is high enough to be damaging to those who partake.

The most “scammish” part of AP is the teachers. While every teacher is no doubt qualified for their job in terms of their expertise, actual teaching skills are another matter. Nationwide, it’s a lottery. You could have someone who’s willing to have a conversation, who’s willing to do a full dive into the content with their students, someone who challenges their class and helps them live up to expectations. You could have someone who sits in their swivel chair for eighty minutes staring blankly at their computer, expecting you to “teach yourself” (Teach myself what, exactly?) You could have someone who is so unclear about course material that you end up reading the wrong book for a whole quarter. You could have someone who is so obsessed with policing their classroom that they care more about calling out “microaggressions” than an actual discussion.

This isn’t to say that students should be guaranteed a good teacher. We learn pretty quickly upon entering the school system that every teacher is different and some are better than others. Besides, a “good teacher” is relative to the student. What I am saying, though, is that AP classes are hardly any different than CP or Honors classes. Education at any level is a lottery, but AP is advertised as some godsend that will do nothing but right by you. The result is some people, like myself, taking Advanced Placement not for the experience or the life lessons, but for the money it’s going to save my family on college tuition.

Except, not actually. Not all colleges in the country accept AP credits. College Board likes to make this seem like a small fluke; most colleges and universities accept it, they say. So you enter AP thinking that, hey, I’m going to save money. I’m going to save my family money. This is a fantastic opportunity and I made the right choice. The reality only kicks in when Boston College tells you that they won’t accept your seven AP credits that you toiled over all of junior year.

More disturbing than that, though, is the AP Test. The Advanced Placement Test is required for all students taking any AP course. The maximum score you can get is a five, and anything below a three is considered failing, or “possibly qualified” to stay in AP. Did I mention that this test costs ninety dollars? And if you fail, you get kicked out and your AP credit is totally negated.

So, in conclusion, we have College Board and their CEO, David Coleman, to thank for both AP classes and the AP Test. We have them to thank for the culture of both extreme superiority and inferiority that students endure with the existence of AP classes. We have them to thank for the lack of consistency in Advanced Placement teachers. We have them to thank for the exam that takes your money and proves nothing. We have them to thank for the scam that is Advanced Placement.

**Please keep in mind that the opinions represented in this editorial do not reflect the thoughts of RHS Patriot Voice’s staff. These are the thoughts of the writer and the writer alone.

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19 Comments

19 Responses to “The AP Scam”

  1. Jason VuNguyen on January 31st, 2019 10:13 am

    I disagree with you because AP classes were made for the students that are able to handle the class. If an un qualified person wants to take an AP class, its not the teachers fault that the student didn’t have a good work ethic enough to keep up with the class. So, AP exams and classes aren’t “useless”. Even if they didn’t pass the AP exam, their still able to bring their past knowledge to the same course in college.

  2. Dang K Nguyen on January 31st, 2019 10:14 am

    I’m sort of relate to your ideas, I mean yes, all classes should teach equally. But it’s also kind of true that they set up the courses like that because of your knowledge skills. Because, in secondary school, I was in a higher advancement class and I couldn’t catch up because the subjects they taught were too hard to understand. For example, that day in advance class, they do now is 5/5 +123000 compare to normal class do now which are 1+1 or 2+2. So my opinion is all teachers in every course should at least give a reminder some basics before go into “sky high”.

  3. Ariel Uribe on January 31st, 2019 10:16 am

    Firstly, I disagree with everything you’ve said. You’re judging all AP Classes based on the 2 bad experiences you’ve had. I’m currently taking AP Calculus and I can guarantee that anyone could walk into that class taught by Ms. Cronin and learn something that same day. AP Calculus is probably the most fun I have at school.

    Secondly, how could an AP class be a scam? I understand that 90$ could be a little ridiculous for a test you might fail, but you only have to pay 90$ if you pay for school lunch, which is based on your families income. Personally, I have to pay 10$ since I receive free lunch, and even if I were to fail the test, I would still have an A in calculus and have learned everything I need to know to take the course again in college. Now, if you fail an AP exam and blame the teacher, you’re also in the wrong. Sure, they might not be the best teacher, but it’s up to you to go out of your way and learn the topics on your own time to prepare for the exam.

  4. Jason VuNguyen on January 31st, 2019 10:16 am
  5. Denyella D'Urbano on January 31st, 2019 10:17 am

    I agree and disagree with this article. To start off, I agree that people taking an AP class think they are superior to others. Also, I think it is a “scam” that if you don’t pass the AP exam (that you pay $90 for) you won’t get that credit for taking the class, so you’re taking a risk by taking that class. Also, why take an AP if some colleges won’t accept the credits? However, I think the AP classes are very challenging and take a lot of time and effort to even pass the class. Some of my friends are in AP classes and they do think it is worth their time to take an AP, and maybe it is worth their time for them. For me, I wouldn’t take an AP class because I know what I am capable of doing in school and I know what I am not capable of. Also, I disagree that the teachers who teach AP classes are more than qualified to teach those classes because they wouldn’t waste their time and the student’s time if they weren’t willing to properly teach a class that students will have to pay for a test at the end of the year.

  6. Fabio Tran on January 31st, 2019 10:18 am

    Hi, I agree that there is an inconsistency in the quality of AP teachers. From my own experience, I had dealt with bad and good AP teachers but I still felt like I have learned a lot so I don’t think its a scam. I feel like not every teacher’s teaching style will not be perfect for you so part of being a good student is adapting.

  7. Hannah Bruno on January 31st, 2019 10:18 am

    I do like the way that your writing is persuasive, however, I disagree because I honestly feel like AP classes are extremely different than CP and Honors, I have both CP and Honors, and I took Anatomy and Phys, last semester which is the equivalent to an AP class. They are not easy, and if a CP kid takes that class they would most likely struggle, because of the hard content.

  8. Kimberly on January 31st, 2019 10:23 am

    What is your definition of a scam? Due to failing an AP class, that does not mean it is a waste of time. I feel as though this is a biased opinion due to your struggle in the classes, but I do not feel like it is useless knowledge if you do not fully complete the class. AP will help you, fail or pass. The word “garbage” is not accurate and you could have been more respectful towards those who take the class and those who teach it, especially if you expect so much respect back.

  9. Dante Raffa on January 31st, 2019 10:29 am

    First off, I’d like to say that you are entitled to your opinion, BUT, I 98% disagree with you. Based off of what I’ve heard, I agree that it can be a gamble with getting one teacher over another. However, if you ever don’t understand something you should immediately stay after school until you understand the task you need to learn. Secondly, I 100% disagree with you that AP classes are a scam. Having friends in college, AP classes are run like most classes are in college are run, so AP is preparing you for the next couple of years in your life. Another reason that it is not a scam is that you save a ridiculous amount of money. If you pass the AP Exam, which is $98, you can test out of a $2000 college class. That is a chance I’m willing to take. If someone feels there is a chance they might not pass, they should be after school every day trying to improve their chances of passing. Some people I’m friends with in college took AP classes, failed the exam, and had to take the class again in college. Even though you might see this as a “scam,” my friends are glad to report that they have an A+ in the class because they already know the material. Because they already mastered the material, they are helping other classmates pass the class.

  10. Brianna Senecal on January 31st, 2019 10:36 am

    I thoroughly disagree with your opinion. By no means do I think AP classes make students feel “superior.” Just because students take higher-level classes, does not make them feel better than other students, as you implied. You said, “AP classes at Revere High are often less organized, less communicative, and overall less educational than Honors and CP courses.” I understand your frustration, but I wish you’d given examples of why and how. I also think that it was purposeless to call AP Courses “garbage” while students sit in classes, struggling to keep up. From experience, AP courses require an abundance of time and energy. Personally, I find it harsh that you would call something that I struggle with, and contribute most of my energy to, “garbage.”
    I do agree that, sometimes, AP courses are a “lottery.” Sometimes you can get a wonderful, open-minded teacher, but other-times, you can get an inferior, unpleasant teacher. I do understand that, sometimes, the situation isn’t ideal, but as students, we have to push through. Like CP and honors students, AP students do not get a choice as to which teacher they will get. It’s not anyone’s choice.
    Like CP and Honors classes, AP Courses also prepare us for college. Most of us are just trying to get into college, and AP classes just help us get there. By no means do I think this is a waste of my time, or “garbage.” I am thriving in my environment and love my classes and teachers.

  11. Haley on February 1st, 2019 1:19 pm

    First off, Pre-AP classes are no where near the rigor involved in taking an AP course. I took Pre-AP all through middle school and one Pre-AP freshman year, and the work then is not even comparable to an actual AP class. When you willingly sign up for an AP class, you need to know what comes with it. You are taking the closest thing to a college course in high school, and if you cannot deal with/handle the heavy work, possible unfairness, the way others teach, the pace of the class, the lack of clarity, etc etc, then you are NOT going to survive in the real world, let alone just college or the rest of high school. Life can’t always go your way. The teachers who teach the AP classes, at least the 3 that I have had, will help you out A LOT if you ask. They are not here to fail you! Personalities clash, but that doesn’t mean there is ill-intent. When it comes to college, professors are going to be less helpful than our wonderful teachers we have now… Neither do I agree with you comparing CP classes to Honors classes. CP & Honors classes’ work load is a joke compared to AP. If you cannot handle the rigorous curriculum of an AP class, then it’s not for you. However, I do agree with you that CP & honors classes have a higher percentage of disobedience (but most importantly disrespect!!!)… TL;DR if you can’t successfully handle rigor & unfairness, then apply to a community college rather than an Ivy League.

  12. Eiad Karageh on April 22nd, 2019 8:56 am

    For clarification, are you saying that AP classes promote conformity?
    Also, I see this topic to be very controversial, I’ve seen comments from AP students unrelenting as they backlashed at this article but there are justified points in those comments just as there are in your article. However, I do see weaknesses in both at the same time.

  13. Aya Malki on April 22nd, 2019 8:56 am

    I guess this could be argued both ways. I disagree and agree with this article. This is because many people who take AP classes consider themselves more superior to the rest. It gives a sense of over-confidence whether or not the student likes the class.
    I disagree with the fact that it’s a scam. that would be a big exaggeration because, for one, AP classes are optional. No one is forced to take them, they are there for students who believe they can handle that level of work. AP classes are not always the best, but some are not that bad if you really put your mind to it. Sure, you will have plenty of bad experiences but that doesn’t turn the table on the classes overall.
    I also agree that some of the teachers that are picked for the position are not good at it. Every teacher is different, but that isn’t only an AP class thing. Teachers are in all classes, some of them are better than others and some are honestly simply just there.

  14. Diego Salmeron on April 22nd, 2019 8:58 am

    I can see where you’re coming from and I agree with you to some extent. It’s true that some students feel superior to CP when taking AP classes, but it’s in relation to the student. From personal experience, most of the AP students do not feel as though they are better than CP. Most AP students should know not to compare themselves with others because it’s a waste of time. Furthermore, AP classes are never a waste of time. Honestly, I don’t really care if I fail my stats exam because I signed up for the knowledge, not the college credit.

  15. Yophee on April 22nd, 2019 8:59 am

    As a student who is taking AP next year for world history, this article has put many thoughts inside my mind; debating if my decision was a good or bad one. I agree with the point that teachers do less things for the student in these classes. Although I think that’s because they think since we made our way to AP, means that we know what to do without guidance. I also wouldn’t really call it a scam, due to the fact that the student beforehand should understand what they are going into and should be prepared for heavy duty work and challenging obstacles. So if they were to pass the class and pass the exam that would be a measly $90 test for a greater cost of a whole college class.

  16. Jarrod on April 22nd, 2019 9:00 am

    I have never taken an AP course myself but based on the other comments and what I already know about AP since I’m going to take an AP course next year, I would disagree with the article. No one forces you to take an AP. Taking an AP class is your choice, you know what you’re in for when you sign up for it. It isn’t supposed to be easy, and how can you say anything about the teachers not being good because cp and honors teachers aren’t always good either.

  17. Cristofer A on April 22nd, 2019 9:03 am

    I honestly think AP classes are scams because getting into one is rigged if you get lucky and get a teacher that is well opened minded and gives you the opportunity to go an AP class you are lucky. Most teachers are hard on students and won’t let them go on to an AP class because of one little thing. I do agree on one of the major difference between a CP and AP class is AP students to be more respect and more well behaved I figured that out through the past years. Also, I think another difference between an AP and CP the speed of teaching but the learning is the same its all about paying attention and doing your work.

  18. Alaa Atoui on April 22nd, 2019 9:07 am

    I disagree because I believe AP classes are very beneficial. I have not taken any AP classes myself but from my own knowledge I know Ap classes help you prepare for college classes and I want to take AP next year. It would be nice though if all colleges accepted the college credit but I want to take these classes to get the experience of really pushing myself. If a person is gonna take an AP class they should think about how it will help them in the future. I want to take Psychology because I want to learn how people work and it will be helpful in real life and in jobs you do because you can learn how to interact with people.

  19. Carlos on April 22nd, 2019 1:58 pm

    I think that AP teachers are looser on their students because they think their students know what their doing

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