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These Are the 5 Worst Problems with College Board’s AP Program

Jan 17, 2023

Problems with Collegeboard AP

We’ve seen students ask a lot about the AP Program, including its benefits, ideal enrollment numbers, and how it contrasts with the IB curriculum.

But what about the problems with collegeboard AP? Are there any negative effects of AP classes? Here, we’ll review the five worst problems with collegeboard AP program. We will also discuss ways to get the most out of your AP classes and prevent these problems.


Advanced Placement’s (AP) Top 5 Problems

As we’ve already discussed, taking AP classes has many advantages, but we don’t know about the negative effects of AP classes. By discussing some of the AP program’s shortcomings, we seek to empower students to make better scheduling decisions, particularly in light of today’s competitive college admissions atmosphere.

More Exams Taken = More Exams Fail

In particular, at low-income schools, the AP Program is expanding too quickly to sustain all the new initiatives, which results in more failed examinations than anything else.


As we’ve previously stated, the main objective of taking an AP class is to clear the AP exam after the school year; otherwise, the $92 you paid for the exam is essentially wasted. The problem is that the majority of the AP rise in recent years has led to an increase in AP exam failures.

On the other hand, the emerging AP classes and programs are teething with problems, particularly in schools that don’t have a lot of funding for new AP programs. A high school takes a couple of years for a class to get settled in fully and for a teacher to become accustomed to the AP program.


According to a survey conducted in 2009 among 1,000 AP teachers, “more than half are apprehensive that the program’s usefulness is being undermined as districts soften the requirements for enrolling in such challenging courses and as students swarm to them to boost their resumes.”

In conclusion, thousands of students fail their AP exams every year, which is awful for them and their schools. While it is true that rapid expansion is not yielding the best results for many students, you could contend that the experience of participating in an AP class allows students to prepare for higher education.


There’s too much Material and not Enough Time.

In contrast to IB and other schools’ in-house curricula, AP continues to be perceived as a superficial, memorization-based program, even though many courses have been revised.

In one scathing critique of the AP program in The Atlantic, a high school teacher claims: The AP program “leads to strict stultification.”  He criticizes the fact that AP classes lack depth and the chance for substantive learning because of the amount of material they demand.


According to a different study, another negative effect of AP classes is that, as per KQED, “AP classes don’t always enhance critical thinking abilities or encourage students to investigate issues more thoroughly.”  Some believe that instead, they typically descend into a competition to cover a large amount of information.

It is particularly true compared to IB, which expressly emphasizes the development of writing and critical thinking abilities. The IB program emphasizes critical thinking, scientific studies, and writing in a way that AP classes simply can’t due to time constraints. Students pursuing an IB diploma are required to complete an extensive research essay, attend classes on theories of knowledge, and include more writing on their exams.


In other words, it’s challenging to balance the fact that AP courses include a tonne of content and the goal of stressing analytical reasoning and accessibility. Particularly in schools with few resources.

In the end, if you are taking an AP course, you will probably discover that you spend more time memorizing terminology using flashcards than performing experiments or reading books.


You may not Always Receive the College Credit you Desire.

The AP Program may not result in the college credit you desire for two reasons. Firstly, some universities are becoming more selective about providing AP credit, and AP programs aren’t necessarily as challenging as their real college equivalents.

Additionally, you might not always receive credit for an AP course in college. Sometimes it simply gets you out of the introductory classes offered by your school, which you may want to take to gain a deeper understanding of the subject.

It’s crucial to remember that many colleges, especially big public universities, will accept your AP scores, especially for general education classes. For instance, the University of Utah is a local state university. You may get plenty of AP credits, more than enough to fulfill your high school general education requirements.

However, many private universities, particularly prestigious ones, are reluctant to accept AP credit. Credit guidelines at certain schools are divided along departmental lines. AP courses in Science and Math are given more college credit than History or English.

So, if you’re taking AP courses, you should be prepared for the possibility that, although they will help you prepare for college, you might not receive credit for them there.

Students are Overburdened

One of the common problems with collegeboard AP is that it has less to do with the program itself and more to do with how students (and parents!) respond to it. Students are overwhelmed because they believe enrolling in 10 AP classes will get them into an elite school. Ultimately resulting in stress and exhausted students. Additionally, enrolling in AP courses does not ensure entrance to prestigious universities like Stanford and Harvard.

Some teachers compare AP classes to a “battle,” where certain students enroll in multiple AP classes while others feel under pressure to keep up with them.

Students who overload are considerably more likely to become overwhelmed by the workload and receive low grades on tests. Additionally, their stress levels increased by today’s competitive college admissions process.

It may Make Educational Inequality Worse.

Although AP has frequently been hailed as a catalyst for educational equality, it usually just serves to reinforce unfair results. The AP program frequently perpetuates educational inequity since students from wealthier schools do better on AP exams than students from less wealthy schools.

The College Board frequently promotes the introduction of AP into different public and low-income schools as a success for education. Low-income schools frequently have difficulty implementing AP programs and ensuring their students pass the tests.

In the end, the tests reinforce the existing quo: children at well-funded schools perform well, while students at less well-funded schools underperform. It is similar to how the SAT and ACT work. Additionally, the program loses its ability to separate kids as it grows in size.

In other words, the AP program isn’t delivering on AP student problems. Its commitment to standardize the playing field for education in the US is not met equally for each student. Even worse, it’s driving some private schools to discontinue offering AP in favor of their advanced classes, making AP appear less important in the college application process.

So, Should you Enroll in AP Classes?

Considering these AP student problems, should you completely abandon AP? After reading over all those problems, you must have second thoughts about dropping out of AP classes. But remember, it is not true for every student! Subject experts believe that many children can benefit greatly from the AP program. Despite the program’s shortcomings, you should follow these steps to ensure you get the most out of it.

1: Enroll in the Hardest Classes Offered at your School

We’ve looked at the problems AP students face nationwide, but the truth is that if you want to get into prestigious institutions, you still need to enroll in the most challenging classes your school offers. If your school offers AP courses and you want to attend a prestigious university, you should still enroll, but you shouldn’t take too many of them. If your school’s AP program isn’t great, talk to your school counselor about creating a competitive mix of subjects that don’t overburden AP.

2: Align your AP Courses with your Objectives

Do you desire admission to a prestigious university? Or do you like to skip general education requirements at your public school and graduate from college sooner? Your responses to these questions can guide you in determining which AP classes are worthwhile and which ones are not.

You can make an intelligent AP program if you know your objectives. Look at AP classes that let you explore your hobbies and demonstrate your academic potential if you want to attend a top school.

3: Avoid Typical Mistakes

Don’t take too many AP classes to have them all on your resume. Pick the appropriate number for you. So be it if this means you enroll in lesser AP classes than your colleagues. Always choose lessons with your objectives in mind.

Additionally, even if you believe the class is simple, you still need to practice to pass the AP exam. It doesn’t look very good if you receive an A in an AP class but a one or two score on a test. Before the final examination, make sure that you solve at least two complete practice exams.


Even though the AP program has a lot of issues, it’s still an excellent way to get ready for college. You can benefit greatly from taking AP by learning to study independently, gaining self-discipline, and mastering difficult material. The benefit you derive from taking AP classes depends on your level of effort.

In conclusion, you could improve your school’s AP program results by using your advanced talent. Remember that this can entail additional studying beyond the class and taking responsibility for your learning.


Problems with College Board’s AP Program


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