In American schools, success is often measured by the amount of Advanced Placement (AP) classes a student takes. In May, those enrolled in these advanced classes take their exams, and depending on the class and teacher, this exam could determine if they pass the class or not. AP classes are known for being rigorous. At Berkeley High School (BHS), kids are sent home with truckloads of homework to do for most of these classes.
AP classes are recommended for people who exceed in their standard classes, and have a genuine love or interest in the AP subject. Although not impossible, the chances of going to a prestigious university are slim if you have no AP classes on your transcript. This brings many to question, is the AP system fitting for judging merit in students? The answer is no, but to succeed without the AP system would require bringing standard classes up to par with advanced ones which would take a holistic renovation of the structure of the education system.
The AP system doesn’t make sense. In order to succeed at all, you need to take classes that are only recommended to people who are already driven in the subject. Without outstanding extracurriculars, it’s difficult to get into a good university by simply completing, or even excelling in all your classes if none of them are APs. Not all colleges take AP credits into account, but all will look at whether or not you took APs, and judge students largely based on that.
Although illogical, no better way of judging students based on their potential collegiate success has been found, and a better way to judge the merit of students would require an entire reform to the American public school system. Often, AP classes receive adequate supplies, better teachers, and more funding, which is seldom found in non-AP classes in your average public school. Resources are spread far too thin throughout the education system as a whole, and that often results in teachers paying for school supplies out of their own pockets, teachers being laid off, and unreasonably large class sizes. In environments like these, one of the only ways to get the education all students deserve is to take AP classes, even if they don’t interest you. In order to dismantle the current system of AP classes, we would need to improve other classes and find a new way of testing students stature and merit.
Along with the classes being harder, AP classes have a large exam in early May. The classes are often, to the dismay of many students, taught very exactly to the test, which results in them having less of an understanding of the subject, and more knowledge about how to answer the test questions. A good way to improve this system would be to not have an AP exam, instead just having finals like any other class. Judging the academic accomplishments of students based only on one test that they were trained to take is illogical.