Advanced Placement (AP) Classes & Tests

Advanced Placement classes give students an opportunity to take college-level courses and exams while still in high school. There are 33 courses in 19 subject areas, offered by 13,000 secondary schools around the world. See the College Board's website for more info

Parent Q&A

AP World History Tutor - LEQ Feedback Mar 16, 2020 (0 responses below)
How to best prepare for AP Spanish exam 'solo' Aug 21, 2017 (1 responses below)
  • AP World History Tutor - LEQ Feedback

    (0 replies)

    I have a teen who has taken an AP World History class that was very light on how to write a Long Essay Question answer.  I am looking for someone familiar with the AP World History content and experience with the LEQ writing style to help her prepare for the test in early May.  Ideally, she would write an LEQ and the tutor would review it and provide feedback and constructive criticism.  The tutoring could be in person or online, although a preliminary meeting would probably be a good idea.  I am not looking for a general test prep program or assistance with the multiple-choice part of the test.  She has a pretty good grasp of the content and just needs to practice writing LEQs. Any suggestions or recommendations are welcome.  

  • Hello.  My son is in 9th grade. He is bilingual in Spanish but his vocabulary and grammar are not advanced.  However, he has enough knowledge and grammatical awareness that he could prepare on his own to take the AP exam.  Has anyone done this?  Did you use any specific books?  Do you have any advice/recommendations?

    My son was in this situation with French. He had gone to a French immersion school K-8, but wanted to take the AP French test in 9th grade. He ended up taking an AP French course online for school credit from Middlebury Interactive. The course is very difficult and time consuming, so I'm not necessarily recommending it for credit. But your son could take the course to use it to prep for the exam; it's very good practice for what will be on the AP test. The only thing my son said was difficult on the test was doing the speaking exercises with 20 other kids also speaking around him. That threw him off a bit, as he had prepped for the exam solo and always in quiet. So maybe have him do a few speaking exercises with a bunch of noise around him! For what it's worth, my son got an A in the course and a 5 on the test. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Is it better to get a B in an AP class or an A in a standard class?

Sept 2015

I have two daughters - a junior at Oakland Tech and a sophomore at Bishop O'Dowd. My daughters are getting conflicting advice from the counselors at both schools and I would like some insight as either daughter may be misunderstanding the details or misrepresenting to suit her own desires.

Oakland Tech counselor told daughter number 1 that it is better to take the most advanced or academically challenging course she could take even if it meant a slightly lower grade. The example used was that it is more important to take Honors Algebra II/Trig and get a B than it is to take the standard Algebra II / Trig course and earn a B+ or even an A-. This is particularly true when taking an AP course over a standard course. While the report card will report the grade, the transcript will report the weighted grade, giving more weight to honors and AP than standard courses.

The counselor at O'Dowd said the exact opposite - it is better to take the standard class and get an A than to take an honors or AP class and get an A- or a B+. The counselor at Bishop O'Dowd also reportedly said that the report card and transcript grades are identical when taking standard, honors and AP courses and there is no weighting at all. As a result, my younger daughter who qualified for four honors courses is saying the standard courses are fine for her even though the books they are reading in the standard high school course were the identical books she read in her public middle school seventh grade English classes. She scored in the 90th percentile for the placement test for honors Algebra II and is happy taking standard Algebra II.

I do not understand how this discrepancy can be so large. Is it because one school is Parochial and the other is public? Is there a college counselor or someone who can give me accurate information? Two Schools-Two Schools of Thought

I'm in the midst of the college shuffle; my daughter is going off to college next year. I have attended many workshops and college presentations both on east coast and west. What all the college admissions people are saying as well as the college counselors we consulted with (thinking of changing careers now, I feel like I have learned so much) is that it is the quality of the classes that someone takes that's more important. Hence a B in an AP class is better than an A in a non AP class. They look at the transcript which does show the weighted number as well as the regular GPA AS well as the type of classes. Of course if it is a difference between a D in an AP class vs an A in a non AP class, I would rethink it, altho it is good to show them that you are trying to push yourself. Which is why they all say, don't slack off in senior year, it all still counts (they will get an end of year transcript even if you applied earlier in the year) I also don't know if it would be worth it for a child to have a lot of anxiety in taking AP classes. I guess it depends on your child. I also think it is more important in Jr and Sr years and maybe not as much in Freshman year. Hope that's helpful.

It also may be helpful for you to speak with the two high school counselors as well to see what they are really saying, especially the one that says AP grades are not as important as regular A's. Good luck betty

I'm not a college counselor and I don't know what colleges are looking for. But as a mom of a junior, I'd say focus on what her experience is now rather than how the colleges are going to look at it. If the English class is largely a repeat of middle school, it sounds like she should take a more advanced class, if nothing else than to not be bored, even if it means forgoing the easy A. In terms of her overall schedule you and she can discuss how much challenge she wants and do you feel is appropriate? In what classes? I think the emphasis should be on learning rather than what her grade is going to be. That you got conflicting advice tells me that either one of those counselors doesn't know OR, perhaps more likely, there is not one right answer. Maybe it differs at different colleges.

This is my experience at Berkeley High and I was very careful to look into this, but I am not a professional responding to you, just a parent.

All report cards have grades that are not weighted. It is up to the receiving college to weight the grades as they see fit. So what YOU see is always an un-weighted grade, e.g. the grade the teacher gave the student. The UC/CSU system puts all the info into a computer and levels the playing field so no worries there.

I think they all look at GPA first, but they always do look for AP classes so that counts for a lot. It may be that some schools weight the grade they report ahead of time, so then the college will not do that a second time. I don't know. It looks good to take some AP classes, and yes, students receive what is essentially a higher grade for AP classes. It looks bad to do badly on any class. And it all depends on what schools your child plans to apply to.

My kid did not pass one AP test and that did not matter one bit. (You save money at UC/CSU with a passing AP grade because student can take fewer classes. That's all. Each college decides what constitutes a passing AP grade.) She took the harder classes, learned more, got some weighted grades and it all looked better on her transcript. She only took AP classes where she could do well, in her case NO AP math or science, so it depends on your child's skills. If you are helping make decisions for a potential genius child, my advice is not for you.

Help your kids not stress over grades and college - limit their number of AP classes (my advice.) Peggy

The UCs, and as far as I know only the UCs, treat AP grades as if they were one letter grade higher than they actually are. So when applying to a UC, a B+ in an AP class is indeed better than an A in the corresponding non-AP class.

For every other college, there's a tradeoff. Taking harder classes makes your child look more attractive to the college. Getting higher grades makes your child look more attractive to the college. If you can't have both, then it will depend on the relative weighting that the particular college gives to GPAs versus difficulty of curriculum. I would imagine that for some colleges, and for some classes, it cuts one way, while for other colleges and courses it cuts the other. So both advisors could be correct, depending on the particular course they were speaking about, and depending on what colleges your child plans to apply to. David

I can only speak for UC admissions - application readers are looking at all of the courses that were available to your student and whether or not your student took advantage of those opportunities. Every application is reviewed in ''context''. Readers will see both a weighted and non weighted GPA. Your student is also measured by how well they did compared to the other kids at the school. A's in standard classes(when honors and AP were available) will not get a student in to a selective school in the UC system. The Tech counselor is the one you should be listening to if getting into a UC is your kid's ultimate goal. If you're looking at small privates, it may be a different story - but taking the easy way out is not gonna fly at Stanford either. Knows UC Admissions

I have two kids in high school at a local private school. The advice they've been given from their counselors matches the Oakland Tech counselor's advice. -J

Different schools may give different advice - there is more than one way of looking at the college application process. When applying, they will ask about your GPA, but - more importantly - they ask about the actual classes that you took. They'll see, from the transcript, that a student did, or did not, ''push'' themselves to work harder. Yes, you can get a 4.0 taking all 'college prep' classes - and never once be challenged, which make one wonder how much they got out of the class. Or, they can get a 3.5 unweighted, but take Honors/AP classes - which shows they stretched, and tried to take on a higher level of difficulty.

Colleges will definitely look at the level of the classes taken, especially as juniors and seniors.

How are their test scores? SAT and ACT are very different tests -- and in most cases, it doesn't matter which one you took.

I would suggest that you talk to a college counselor/ admissions advisor who is familiar with the schools, or types of schools, that each girl is considering post-high school. That will also help you figure out what their best path is. Private vs public, large vs small... as I was told last year, when we were in the midst of our search -- there are about 4000 colleges and universities in the country to choose from. You just have to decide what you are looking for -- and then you'll narrow down your search, see the different requirements, and it will start falling into place.

Oakland Tech offers a great ''Road to COllege'' series for parents and students -- LOTS of information.

Good luck. Been there, RECENTLY!!

Just a few weeks ago we were at an info session run by an associate dean of admissions at MIT, and her very clear message to students was to take the most challenging course load possible that their high school offered. She said they would rather see somebody struggle a bit initially in AP Physics and then figure out how to master the material than sail through with top scores in an easier class. Don't know if this representative of all schools but that was her recommendation from an admissions perspective. anon

Several years ago, I asked this same question for my daughter to my friend who is Dean of Health Science at our Alma Mater, Univ. of Michigan. She forwarded the question to a friend of hers in Admission, who said: take the harder class, even if the grade is lower. We took that advice and my daughter now is about to start at a top ranking school (4th in the US) with a full scholarship. Aside from that, I just think that the non-AP classes are not very challenging, and High School years are a great time for kids to challenge themselves academically (and otherwise). Happy

AP classes are set up by the College Board and must report the grade as a weighted grade if the class was taught by a certified AP teacher in a certified AP class. Passing the AP exam for college credit is a 3, 4, or 5.

Honors classes are often accepted with weights at some universities and not others. I would wonder two things: 1. Are the honors classes at Oakland Tech and at Bishop O'Dowd qualified honors classes? If these are just higher level classes for those students who think more deeply or work at a faster pace and are not approved by the UC system it may be that they do not carry more weight and the term ''honors'' is more an honorary term rather than a specific term. Only Oakland Tech and Bishop O'Dowd can answer that question. 2. Where and how are these ''honors'' classes certified or registered.

It may also be that Bishop O'Dowd discourages AP courses because they have a limited number of teachers who have been certified to teach AP courses.

On a personal note: I am a fan of honors courses, those courses in which students are required to think more deeply than they would in another class and to work hard every day. However, I am not such a fan of AP classes because it is a set curriculum (by the College Board) in which the students work broadly, without working deeply with the material. I believe that a well taught honors class with additional follow-up can lead to a very high score on the AP exam. You can take the exam without taking the AP course and receive college credit for the work.

I, too, have found that a well-run middle school course insisting on critical thinking and precise writing, in public, Parochial and private schools, is often much stronger than many courses offered in similar high schools. I would also want to know why daughter 2 is resistant to higher order thinking types of courses, but that is just my parenting style. Honors is Good, AP, not so much

Does it make sense to take ALL the AP tests?

Sept 2015

I've been following the recent thread about AP classes and have a related question. My high school junior is taking many AP classes and just assumes that he should take the exam for each of them. I gather that they help if one goes to a UC in terms of passing out of classes (I have other issues/concerns with this and appreciate what a recent respondent said about liking honors classes more than AP), but he's not looking at UCs (too big) so I wonder if it really makes sense to take ALL the tests (assuming good grades in the classes)? He's already taken two last year on which he got 5s.

trying to remain chill about this process

How many AP tests to take is in part a personal decision. I encouraged my kids to *not* take all of them, but to take tests in subjects they wanted to place out of in college. Someone studying math, chemistry, or physics should plan to take these subjects over again in college anyway IMO. Other students can test out of them and take something else. So again, it depends on your student's stress level and overall strategy. Pat

Technically speaking taking an AP Class can offer a few benefits. 1. Demonstrating an ability to learn at a college course type difficulty level. 2. Offering a chance to earn an additional grade point ( A=5pts, B=4pts, C=3pts) at some high schools. 3. Providing a foundation/class work to prepare for the AP Exam.

Taking the exams has a separate list of potential benefits. 1. A ''good'' score (see your colleges guidelines) may be equivalent to college credit for the exam topic. This may or may not give your student priority in registration over the freshman who do not have any college level coursework. Some colleges will accept the credits but may encourage students to retake their version of the class. Hope this helps! Emily

Should senior take AP Chemistry or regular Physics?

June 2015 


Hoping for guidance. My son will be a senior next year. He is planning on taking 5 AP classes. I think that is crazy, but he is a strong student, so maybe all will be ok.  One of his classes will be AP Chem. I understand that AP Chem is the ''hardest AP.''. The science classes he has taken and gotten all As in thus far are: biology, honors chemistry, and AP biology. I'm wondering if he should forego AP Chem and take physics (regular not honors or AP) instead, so that he will have all three sciences on his transcript.  He doesn't know what he wants to major in in college, maybe music or biology. I can't see him really applying to colleges as a STEM major, but there is a slim chance he might change his mind in six months. His high school counselor says he can go either way - AP Chem or regular physics.

I'm thinking that regular physics would give him a break in his crazy schedule and give him three 3 high school sciences. He assumes if there is a choice between an AP science class and a regular science class, he should take the AP.  Does anyone have a kid who made this choice? Any advice? BTW one of his top choices for school is Columbia U.

Trying to make good choices for mental health and also college admissions. Thanks for any insights you can share! Nicole

After dealing with ''just three'' AP classes (including chem) and one HP class this past year, I would say NOOOOOOOO!! Even if your son can handle it, and it sounds like he can, it's a huge course load and it won't make that much of a difference for college admissions -- particularly if he is giving up other outside interests (and sleep) to do so.

IT's not so much about the rigor of the class, it's about the amount of organization and homework that will be required to succeed. AP chem is not necessarily that hard, but there is a considerable amount of work and on top of four other AP classes, something is going to drain him DRY. It will be far more important for him to put the energy into college applications, which will be due at the end of November. If he gets overwhelmed with other work, the most important thing he can be doing could easily fall to the wayside.

When my kid signed up for ''just'' three AP classes, I heard the bells go off but I did nothing. I wish I had stepped in earlier and said NO. Maintaining a reasonable life is critical to a teen's health. There are enough pressures to deal with. And of course college applications take on a life of their own for a few months -- even for the most organized students.

As far as wanting to get into Columbia, you might want to talk to his counselor about the rigor of studies the students who were accepted there this year. Did they take a ton of AP classes? Look at the average GPAs for the colleges. Are they 4.3 or above? Some don't even take weights into consideration. That should be part of his due diligence in making a very important and weighty decision.

IMHO, it's just not worth it. There are enough things going on during the senior year, and a lot to potentially give up and for what?

Best of luck on this. And stay strong, mama. I wish I had. APprehensive about that

Columbia (Barnard) grad here. I'd suspect that getting a good grade and not working much too hard are more important than taking an AP per se. Perhaps your son should take the regular class and get an A. I'm quite sure that the Admissions department has seen so many AP course-takers that they're not as impressed as we all tend to think they are. Best of luck.

Our daughter took AP physics and our son took regular physics. The only differences were that our daughter had to memorize a page or two of formulas she needed to know for the AP test and they did fewer labs since they had more review for the AP test.

Unless your son is sure he wants to major in Chemistry or Chemical Engineering in college, I think it makes more sense to take physics. We also heard AP Chemistry was the hardest, neither of our kids took that.

I agree that 5 AP classes is crazy, but there are some kids who can do it. The students that are in AP classes are more serious about learning and some students prefer that environment.

You don't say anything about extracurricular activities or what level of college your son wants to go to. For the best universities, it really helps to show leadership in extracurricular activities. That would be more important than taking 5 AP classes.

For what it's worth, Our daughter got into UCLA and our son got into UCSC this fall (each school was their first choice). Both are going to be studying Computer Science. Our daughter took 4 AP classes as a senior and our son took 3. Our daughter had a 4.0 (unweighted) and our son had a 3.6. They were both in Academic Decathlon with our daughter being a co-captain. Our daughter also got her Girl Scout Gold Award. -parent of twins

Sorry, I missed the part about Columbia U. I think leadership in extracurricular activities would be much more important than a 5th AP class. You also don't say how many classes your son is taking. Both our kids took 7 classes as freshmen and sophomores (when P.E. is required) and only 6 as juniors and seniors. That is also important for mental health. They took up running and biking on their own to stay healthy. -parents of twins

If he wants to go to Columbia, I would say do AP Physics, as he has already taken chemistry. If he takes AP Chemistry, he will do okay, I would say, from lots of experience seeing and hearing about kids taken it, only if one of his parents REALLY knows the subject OR he has a tutor. Rosie e.g. is great and specializes in AP Chem (rosieueng [at] Columbia is a HARD school to get into, so they will want to see lots of APs. Mom

AP Economics - where to take the test?

Feb 2015

Hi, does anyone know which schools offer the AP Microeconomics and/or Macroeconomics tests? My son took ATDP's AP econ course over the summer, but his school doesn't offer the exams, and the collegeboard is not helpful. thanks!

Berkeley High has AP Macroeconomics. My daughter will be taking the test there this May. Not sure about Microecon. BHS parent

Berkeley High offers the AP Econ exam; unsure if they are willing to test outside students. You can contact AP Services to obtain contact info for local high school coordinators that will accept outside students. BUSD parent

AP Biology exam - resources?

Nov 2008

My sophomore daughter has taken Honor Biology in her freshman year. She would like to take AP Biology exam on May. Does anybody know any resource, such as on-line course, tutorials or tutors for AP Biology? Or does any college provide AP Biology course? Thanks Julia

I believe you can go on line to the AP website and find former questions. I had my Honors Bio. Students practice writing one essay per week and then we critiqued it. They want to concisely give factual information, in an organized way, without the fluff. kl

AP Chemistry

Strategies to pass the AP Chemistry Test

Jan 2010

I need some strategies, advice on how to pass AP Chem test in May. How do kids manage to study for this? I have one of those AP CHEM preparation books and there is so much content I just don't know how a kid can absorb it all (while they are actively taking classes in high school) How have other kids managed to study all this material to the point of passing the exam? Do you think a kid should study every night from now until May? I think this may be the only way. What resources are available that don't require excess amounts of $$? Thanks Need help

I asked my daughter who took AP Chemistry a few years ago at BHS, and did very well on the Exam, whether she had any wisdom to pass on -- this is what she said: ''The point of an AP class is that it covers the material on an AP exam. To the extent that the student tries hard and learns the material as it is covered in the class (i.e. does what is expected in any class), and reviews the material some for about 2 weeks before the exam then they will more than pass it. Therefore the student really just needs to make sure he or she is really understanding each unit as the teacher covers it. If that happens, it will only take a little bit of review right before the test so everything is fresh.'' anon

I took three AP classes my first semester senior year of high school. No tutors- I'm not sure how they would help since the volume of the material, not its difficulty, is the issue. You're worried about the sheer amount of stuff he needs to absorb. Well, it's only February first. He has plenty of time to start memorizing, using quiz lists, flash cards perhaps, and some review books. Your question implies that some amount of money will solve this problem. Tutors and Kaplan inc have an interest in making you believe this, but your kid can do it on his own. Grad school isn't going to be any easier ! PhD Mom.

AP Chemistry for HS Sophomore? (Feb 2008)

Our daughter is a freshman at a small private high school in the EB. She is considering taking an AP Chemistry class in her sophomore year. Her teachers have encouraged her to go for the challenge. She doesn't intend at this point in her school career to be a science major down the line. Her academic grades & study habits are excellent, but she is equally interested in art, music, dance, photography and wants to pursuit these interests along with her school work. She says she doesn't want the AP class to ''take over'' her life, but I think it will for the duration. Anyone have experience in these waters? Is AP Chem too stressful for a HS sophomore? Will we need to hire a tutor (Chem teacher will not be be tutoring AP students)? Do students get in depth knowledge in AP courses or is it a stressful speed through? Do colleges really pay attention to these classes? I'm trying to figure out what's in it for her. Am proud she's been offered this opportunity, but not sure that the stress and possible meltdowns are worth it. Grateful for any advice. Mom

My son is trying to figure out whether to sign up for chemistry or AP chemistry for next year,when he will be in 10th grade at Berkeley High. Has anyone had recent experience with these courses? Do you have any advice? Class selection for next year is happening next week so, unfortunately, time is of the essence. Thanks, Mom who doesn't know what to advise

As a former AP teacher (although not chemistry), I would say that the general rule of thumb is that AP is for students who LOVE the subject matter and do not mind that it takes over their life. An AP class is supposed to generate 2 hours of homework per night, and many, if not most, students who take AP math and/or sciences end up with private tutors. The must-have-a-4.5-GPA-to-go-to-an- elite-private-school student might also surivive if that is his/her goal, but it will not be fun. IMHO, AP is over- rated and is neither the best teaching or learning method. It might save you some money in college fees and boost GPA's, but the workload is brutal, so weigh your options carefully. --love it or leave it

To Both Parents Who Asked About AP Chem, I am a current BHS senior who took AP Chemistry my junior year. I never thought the class to be very difficult. The general sense I got was that the sophomores in the class were very challenged, yet the juniors seemed to be hardly challenged. The class is heavily math based, and much of the work involves taking abstract concepts involving chemical reactions and converting them to and from mathematical equations. Anyone who is strong in math and science should have little trouble keeping up in the class. I personally required very little work to get an A in the class, and my lack of dedication shows in my score of 4 on the AP test. I was able to take 4 AP classes and still pursue other interests outside of school with a weighted GPA far above 4.0. I believe that students should make the most of their time in school, by taking the classes that interest and challenge them most, but should always keep in mind ''never to let school get in the way of your education''. Hope this helps. BHS Senior

My daughter took chemistry at Berkeley High as a freshman and constantly complained that she didn't learn much. Many of the students weren't all that interested in chemistry and the teacher spent a lot of time just managing the class. She's in AP Biology now and she is learning a lot. The AP classes, however, are really fast-moving survey courses where students have to absorb lots of material. It is a huge amount of work. Since my daughter is in the International High School, she is considering taking IB Chemistry next year since she didn't learn enough in her regular chemistry class. Frances

If you're talking about CPS and Jack Coakley, go for it. He may be the best teacher in the world. My daughter, who is not a scientist, loved his class.

Hello, Making these choices in high school can be stressful for both teen and parent and I empathize with you.

AP courses are definitely viewed highly by college admissions representatives. Colleges want to know that students have challenged themselves academically and taken all available avenues to achieve the best high school education they can. However, if a student doesn't do well in an AP course, that also will be given consideration by admission officers. So, although I would always encourage students to take AP courses, I recommend that students be selective, and take AP courses in areas which interest them and they believe they can be successful.

If you daughter currently has an aversion to taking this course, she may not be successful, and even worse; this may give her distaste for all AP courses. I would let it go and look at other AP courses that interest her more. Colleges really want to see an academic record that reflects steady progress in academic areas, in addition to a record that reflects the particular interests and talents of students.

Also, at the same time she continues following a strong academic curriculum, if your daughter feels there may be an interest in pursuing a career in the arts, I would encourage her to begin taking as many courses in these areas as possible. She will then be at the top of her game in getting admitted to a specialized higher education institution IF she decides to follow that path in a few years.

I hope this is helpful, and please feel free to contact me if I can help you further. Corbina

I noticed your posting and wanted to respond since your question is very often asked by our clients (I direct a college admission consulting company here in SF.) If you are interested in knowing how colleges view taking AP's it would surprise you--they would prefer only 11-12th graders to take them. AP's mean advanced and qualify for college credit. Parents like their students to take AP courses because they feel these ''arm'' their students in the fight for a space at college. Colleges on the other hand don't want students effectively ''testing'' out of their courses because they feel what they have to teach is much more valuable (and it may be). Wait until junior and senior year. If your student is really advanced in Chemistry, have them do a chemistry project with a teacher, attend an science summer program at CAL or compete in one of the many science fairs taking place around CA. It will be much more interesting for a college to see this type of ''proof'' of advanced ability because it is truly ''beyond the norm''. david

I taught AP Chemistry at BHS for many years. I think a lot of students want to take AP Chem for the prestige or because they think regular chem will be too easy for them.

My advice is to take regular chemistry unless you are bored in most science and math classes because they move too slowly for you.

AP Chem requires a lot of work because it covers a lot of material in a short time (the test is in May so the teacher must cover all the curriculum in that time). The course also requires the teacher to teach to the test. That may not be a bad thing since the test covers a comprehensive curriculum; but a lot depends on the teacher being able to present that curriculum in an interesting way and not skimming over the basics in order to get to the hard stuff which you must master for the test.

My own daughter took regular chem at El Cerrito High School and went on to major in sciences at UC Santa Cruz and to become a doctor. I think she may have foundered in AP Chem had she taken it. She didn't even do very well in regular Chem. But she did very well in Science Fair and learned how to study in college. Perhaps she would have learned to hate sciences had she taken AP Chem. I don't think it's out of the question since she was involved in lots of activities and probably wouldn't have taken the time to study that's required in that course. Steve B

Your daughter should take AP chemistry if she is interested in the topic and wants to dig a little deeper into it. One AP course won't necessarily overwhelm her life if it's something she wants to do and has the ability to absorb the topic. Taking an AP course for its status or to get college credits isn't necessarily a good idea, and neither is taking it because a teacher or a parent want her to. Our high school offers AP chemistry the 2nd half of the year, once students have had a chance to decide if they are interested enough in the regular topic to want to get a deeper education. My son is a sophomore at a private HS and loves AP chemistry--it's a little more work, but not overwhelming. He is also an avid musician and has other interests as well. Most high schools recommend against taking more than 1 AP course in the sophomore year, but that also varies according to the child's abilities and wishes. Good luck. AP chemistry mom

I noticed your posting and wanted to respond since your question is very often asked by our clients (I direct a college admission consulting company here in SF.) If you are interested in knowing how colleges view taking AP's it would surprise you--they would prefer only 11-12th graders to take them. AP's mean advanced and qualify for college credit; parents like them because they feel these ''arm'' their students in the fight for a space at college. Colleges on the other hand don't want students effectively ''testing'' out of their courses because they feel what they have to teach is much more valuable (and it may be). Wait until junior and senior year. If your student is really advanced in Chemistry, have them do a chemistry project with a teacher, attend an science summer program at CAL or compete in one of the many science fairs taking place around CA. It will be much more interesting for a college to see this type of ''proof'' of advanced ability because it is truly ''beyond the norm''. david

I have a different take on AP classes. I found them valuable because my kids got to make friends with other academically inclined students. I thought Latin at Berkeley High was great for the same reason. It was work for them to take AP classes, but it was not overwhelming. They continued to have time for extra-curriculars and goofing off. anon

My daughter is taking AP chem this year as a sophomore at O'Dowd and my son took it as a junior. Both have enjoyed it and felt though it was not easy it was nothing they could not handle. Both do well in school in general. They felt regular chemistry ''is a joke'' Jenny

Re: ''Our child thought that regular chemistry was a joke'' - - I think your kid is right, and that's the problem. Our kid has signed up to take AP English, AP History and AP art as a junior. This means she pretty much has to take regular chemistry next year. (Somehow we were convinced to have her take that intro science class freshman year -- another ''joke,'' ha ha.) It's not really practical for every kid to take AP classes in every single subject, but the problem is that the non-AP classes ARE jokes. Why they can't have a reasonable regular curriculum paralleling the AP curriculum I do not know. Your choice should not be between time-intensive AP classes and glorified study halls, but that does seem to be the choice offered. Anonymous

If you are thinking of having your student take the AP Chemistry class I would ask, are you considering AP Chemistry to arm your student for college? Or, is your student truly advanced beyond the normal sophomore science curriculum to the point where he/she needs this type of challenge? If the first answer is more accurate, I wouldn\x92t bother taking the AP Chemistry class as a sophomore.

There is a misperception about AP courses that exists among parents: AP\x92s are not the silver bullet that most parents imagine. While AP\x92s can give parent\x92s piece of mind, the colleges don\x92t really respect AP\ fact, they don\x92t really consider most high school courses to be rigorous or advanced enough. This is why there is such an emphasis on supporting evidence in the way of extra-curriculars and contents to \x93prove\x94 a student\x92s superiority to colleges before the admission process begins. Finally, as I mentioned before on BPN, colleges dislike students taking AP tests because it means that a student will spend less time paying fees at the college; a fact that negatively effects the college\x92s financial situation.

If a student is showing advanced work, private colleges would rather see that student enter college than continue at a normal high school and take AP\ fact, they would simply rather educate the student through early admission to college. Simon's Rock of Bard College for example, feeds advanced high school students into college two years early. ''collegematcher''

I'd like to disagree with something another BPNer said about how colleges view AP classes. While it's true that some colleges may prefer that students not use them to get out of basic classes and graduate early, those colleges just don't offer credit for AP classes/tests. This varies widely by college. As to whether taking AP classes is seen as a plus by college admissions people, I've always heard that an AP class is only a plus on your record if you do well in the class. In other words, don't take AP classes in subject areas that you're not good at and truly interested in. Having just spent the past year going to campus tours with my college-bound daughter, I can tell you that the most selective schools will tell you that if your school offers more advanced courses (honors and AP) and you don't take them, you won't be considered for admission. That doesn't mean you have to take them all, but you have to take some. Mom of a BHS senior

Editor Note: also see a similar discussion specific to Berkeley High School here: AP Chemistry or regular chemistry in 10th grade at BHS?

How to find out about AP classes?

Jan 2004

How can I find out what AP classes are offered at Berkeley High School?

A good place to check for AP and honors courses (at BHS and any other school) is on the UC website Since I would guess that all honors and AP classes are recognized by UC (at least I can't think of any that aren't) you can find the lists here for the schools you want to check. --Sally

What's on the reading list for AP English classes?

Can anyone tell me what is on the reading list for the senior AP English classes - used to be British Literature and something like Modern World Lit. - don't know if it's still the same. Thanks. Miriam

English Literature Reading List