RIDHUAN AND LITTLEJOHN: AP losing to CP where it counts




The value of an AP class is usually approached one of two ways by most students: completion that would prepare you for college classes, or a factoid-based class accompanied with an overwhelming amount of workload to prepare you for one exam that could be either six months away or the next week.

AP classes are an opportunity for students to expose themselves to a class tantamount to college classes. The consistent demand to analyze in depth the extensive curriculum is a common theme amongst AP classes. However, this isn’t completely the case; instead, the vast amount of content needed to cover is coupled by a significant workload in order to prepare students to be successful on the AP exam.

The dreaded AP test serves as the defining message behind many lectures; odds are a student has heard “Remember, you’re not going for a five. You’re going for a passing grade,” or even seen exam excerpts implemented into the curriculum.

The exam’s overarching presence helps students, to a certain extent, to be mindful of and strive for success on the AP test. However, this shouldn’t be the route to passing the exam.

Endless preparation for one exam at the end of the school year devalues the information intended to be completely learnt in class; it forces students to standardize the material in preparation for the test. It also undoubtedly sets teachers up to structure their curriculum around factoids and test preparation rather than emphasizing a comprehensive understanding of the content.

Not only does our block schedule serve as a time constraint for teachers and students, but it also forces them to prioritize what material they must master or skim over in order for students to achieve the best chance they have at passing the exam. The block schedule in no way seems to benefit AP students.

You can say the block schedule is intended to mirror the schedule found at colleges and universities. However, their exams are taken at the end of the class with an equal amount of time regardless of what semester they have the class.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t take AP classes. Taking AP classes will be one of the best opportunities you’ll have to explore topics with more depth and analysis. The skills you’ll gain from AP classes – e.g. time management, analysis, writing – are unparalleled in CP classes.

However, the rigor of the class shouldn’t be dependant on the exam’s difficulty. It should be the culminating result of a valuable workload that’ll strengthen a student’s understanding of the curriculum and an enriching curriculum that explores topics with a level of depth sufficient for intellectual mastery.

And it’s disappointing that this misdirection won’t change any time soon. Seeing how competitive academics are today, it’s more important to get a 5 on a transcript is than retain the information for intellectual benefit. It’s like CP’s associated subordinance to AP is inversed with the academic culture, and CP classes are effective learning environments than AP.

I feel that CP courses are stronger learning environments than their AP counterparts simply because they are easier than AP classes. When students don’t feel the pressure to pass that exam or get that GPA bump, they have more time to absorb and actually remember information.

The whole goal of AP classes are to prepare you for college, but when these classes focus so much on learning information so quickly, it is easy to forget about the learning part as students favor memorization to keep up with the course’s pace. So it seems that relaxed CP classes are more fit for students to learn rather than memorize.

Students need to be taught in ways that make learning a smooth, enjoyable process. When stuck in AP classes their whole high school careers, students will graduate with great GPAs but won’t even know what they want to do for the rest of their life because they don’t have fun doing it.