Advanced Placement Courses 2023

What are AP courses? Are they worth it? How can you apply? A comprehensive guide to Advanced Placement at Madison.

Advanced Placement Courses 2023

Updated: March 27, 2023

March 27, 2023

What do you know about Advanced Placement classes? Perhaps, the concept is entirely foreign to you. Perhaps, you have already taken several of these courses and consider yourself an expert in the field. Regardless of your familiarity with AP classes, I hope that you can nonetheless take away a few useful tips, lessons, or other information from this article.

In James Madison High School, there exist three broad course categories: Regents/regular, Honors, and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Each category is distinct from the other, differing in course content, difficulty, and structure. Regents courses are your typical high school courses that are meant to educate students on the Common Core curriculum devised by the New York State Education Department. Most Regents courses end with a Regents examination that students are obligated to take to graduate. Honors courses, on the other hand, are Regents classes with accelerated pacing and higher expectations. Although students still learn the Common Core curriculum, they often delve deeper into the topics than do their peers in Regents courses. Students in Honors courses are also required to take the Regents examination for the specific course, whether in the January, June, or August exam sitting. So, what is different about Advanced Placement courses?

AP courses are not meant to follow the Common Core mentioned above. Rather, these courses have been developed by College Board, a nonprofit organization that offers a variety of educational opportunities to high school students, including SAT exams, along with Pre-AP and AP courses. Although Madison does not offer any Pre-AP courses, it does have a vast selection of 24 AP courses. The subjects range from AP Human Geography to AP Calculus BC, with each course differing in rigor, amount of work, and the material covered. However, AP courses do share some common qualities. For one, they are all academically rigorous, challenging, college-level courses designed to give students the ability to learn the subject in greater depth than they would in other classes. Additionally, all AP classes end with a 3-hour AP Exam in May, in which students are assessed on material and skills learned covered throughout the year. AP exams can last from as short as 2 hours and 15 minutes to as long as 3 hours and 45 minutes.

Upon learning about the AP Exam and the rumors of countless hours spent on challenging homework assignments, many students refrain from signing up for AP classes. Because of their hesitation, these students are missing out on a myriad of benefits that one can extract from taking them. As an AP student, not only will you have the ability to take college-level courses as a high school student, but you will also get the opportunity to earn college credits if you perform well on the AP Exam. These classes can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run, as the cost of the AP Exam is only $97, while the price of a single college credit is well above $1,000. Moreover, if you are qualified to receive a waiver based on your family’s lunch form, you can take AP exams for free. The benefits do not end there. As a high school student who takes AP classes, you have access to support and resources that you may not have in college. These resources include peer tutoring, student study groups, as well as some of the most remarkable teachers you will ever have. They will be your greatest resource, as your AP teachers will always be out there for you whether you are struggling or thriving in a class. Why not take advantage of the opportunities and expose yourself to a college-level environment at almost no cost?

If I have not yet convinced you to sign up for an AP class, it might be because you have heard extreme stories about pulling all-nighters on an everyday basis, while homework assignments keep piling up. As someone who has taken a number of courses throughout my high school career, I can assure you that this is not the case. Most, if not all, AP teachers establish fair due dates for assignments and provide a substantial amount of support and resources for students to utilize if they struggle with assignments. Furthermore, teachers are still people; they would not purposefully assign ten-page assignments that are due in one day. Those who perpetuate these stories more often than not experience the issue in the first place due to poor time management and study skills. So long as you learn to distribute your study time properly, which AP classes will teach you how to do, you will be able to complete your work punctually and still have enough time to ask questions in class or during your teacher’s office hours.

Hopefully, after grappling with your interest, I have convinced you to look into applying to AP classes. To apply for an AP class for the Fall of 2023, you have to submit the application by March 29. On the form, you will be asked to fill in some general information, as well as to provide a letter about why you want to take AP classes. You must rank the classes you apply to in order of priority, so make sure to place the courses you are most interested in taking first. With Madison’s “AP for All” policy, every student will have the chance of pursuing an Advanced Placement course, so do not hesitate to explore the unknown and challenge yourself.

As stated before, Madison offers 24 AP Courses in five subject categories: math, science, English, social studies, and world languages.

Social studies offer the widest range of courses: 33% or 8 classes. Students can choose to take AP World History, AP US History, AP Human Geography, AP Art History, AP US Government and Politics, AP Macroeconomics, AP European History, as well as AP Capstone, a two-year program that includes two courses—AP Seminar (taken in either 10th or 11th grade) and AP Research (taken in either 11th or 12th grade, depending on when the student took AP Seminar). Although all eight of these courses are interesting and useful, there are some fundamental differences that you should consider before deciding which social studies AP course you should pursue. For instance, the AP World History and U.S. History courses are more “traditional.” In other words, they are closest to the idea of a history course that you might have as a part of your schema. Moreover, these courses can substitute Regents classes. In these courses, you will learn about specific dates and events that took place, as well as major developments and movements that encompass specific periods. In AP Art History and AP Human Geography, you will have a similar experience as in the courses previously described, but the class structure will be somewhat different. In Art History, you will learn history through (you guessed it!) art; in Human Geography, you will learn about various cultures through the lens of geographical differentiation. AP U.S. Government and Politics and AP Macroeconomics are usually taken by seniors and cannot be taken simultaneously. In Macroeconomics, you will learn a fundamentally new social science, which includes more mathematical reasoning than does a typical social studies course. In Government and Politics, you will learn about U.S. history in greater depth, including infamous court cases as well as the legal structure and technicalities associated with it. Finally, you have the opportunity to take AP Capstone—which is a comprehensive and demanding two-year program in which you will work on an individual research project that you can use later on to share with colleges and scholarship organizations. Before proceeding with a research project, however, you will first need to take AP Seminar, which is a course designed to teach students the fundamentals of research, presentations, and productive discussions.

If you are interested in the humanities, you also have the opportunity to choose from the AP English course offerings. As a junior (or as an advanced sophomore) you can take AP English Language and Composition, a course where you will be exposed to the fundamentals of writing and analysis of nonfiction writing. You also have the opportunity to take AP English Literature and Composition as a senior (or as an advanced junior), in which you will gain the skills of literary analysis, enhance your writing skills, and learn more about various forms of poetry. Moreover, you will engage in active class discussions that analyze authors’ craft and will reflect your analysis in essays.

For students who are interested in the STEM realm, Madison offers a total of 10 AP mathematics and science courses. Scholars can choose from 5 AP Science courses: AP Chemistry, AP Physics 1, AP Biology, AP Psychology, and AP Environmental Science. Students are also given the choice of 5 AP mathematics classes: AP Statistics, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science A, AP Calculus AB, and AP Calculus BC. In all aforementioned courses, students will expand their understanding of quantitative principles that guard our existence. Moreover, in challenging courses like AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, or AP Physics 1 students will be able to expand their mathematical and scientific skills like they would in no other class. These courses will push students to their limits, as the interplay of labyrinthine mathematical expressions, coupled with problems that test conceptual understanding of the topic, will force students to apply their knowledge to unique scenarios.

Finally, students have the opportunity to choose from the three AP world languages courses offered: AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP Spanish Literature and Culture, and AP Chinese Language and Culture. These courses have some of the strictest prerequisites of all the APs offered at Madison. For Chinese Language and Culture, for example, you must be fluent in Chinese to apply for the class. For the Spanish World Languages courses, on the other hand, you will need to have completed Spanish 4 by the time of the application and will be invited to an interview with the AP teachers, who will assess your fit for the respective course.

To learn more about specific courses, refer to the requirements and information document, which includes vivid descriptions and syllabi of individual classes, as well as prerequisites for each class. Please make sure to take notice of prerequisite courses, as you need to have completed them to take a specific AP class.

I wish you all luck with your scholastic endeavors.