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What to Expect
Most teachers will give out a syllabus that outlines the material covered and the assignments with due dates. Homework is not like a high school class. Studying is ongoing to prepare for classes filled with discussion and research.
Create a study area for yourself at home where you can work without interruption. You will need to use organizational skills as well as discipline to keep up with the class. Homework consists of reading and preparing weekly, even though the material may not be due until next class. Writing skills need to be honed, reading is continuous, and projects need to be planned.
Preparing for discussion is imperative. This is a class of participation. You will be asked to engage in discussion and asked to think beyond the obvious. In a regular English class, the student may read a book, answer questions, study vocabulary, and write a paper about the underlying theme. In an AP class, the student may be asked to read the book and analyze the effect of the author's writing on the time period. AP history may require persuasive papers on political topics of the times.
If you fail to keep up with the class, you may be removed and placed in a regular class. Some teachers will ask parents and children to sign contracts stating that they understand the expectations.
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Grading in an AP class is different than a regular high school class. Students may receive only two to three grades for the class. Grading is more stringent because of the competition. If you received an A in a regular class, expect a B in an AP class. That's not saying that you can't get an A, but you may have to work a little harder for it. The grading in these classes is similar to what you'll experience in college. Some high schools will weigh the grades, so students aren't disqualified from the Honor Roll or class ranking. Parents and students need to talk with the AP teacher or guidance counselor, so they are aware of the difference in grading and its effect on class standing.
Don't be intimidated. You qualified for the class based on your good grades and excellent study skills. Keep up these habits for good grades in your AP class.
What to Expect in an AP Class
Imagine starting college as a sophomore because the AP classes you took in high school gave you the credits to move ahead in college. AP classes prepare you for college work and offer an opportunity for college credit if you pass the AP exam.