For Nerdfighters who have taken Advanced Placement (AP) classes to discuss their experiences and scores, and for Nerdfighters who are considering AP courses to pose any questions or concerns they have about what to expect. :)
I only took two AP courses throughout my entire high school career: AP Human Geography (which my entire freshman class was forced into) and AP Literature & Composition (which I took voluntarily my senior year).
I found Human Geography to be frightfully dull -- so much to memorize, so little to actually learn. I didn't care a damn about it, so I didn't try and ended up with B's and C's in the class and a 2 on the exam. (If you are unaware, exam scores range from 1 to 5 with 5 being "extremely well qualified" and 1 indicating no qualification whatsoever.)
AP Literature, on the other hand, was by far the class for me. We read short stories, essays, poems, and novels with actual intellectual content!!! Twilight was never once a subject, except when discussing the differences between literary fiction and commercial fiction. I got top marks on all my essays and a 5 five on the exam. :)
If you have no interest in the subject of an AP class you're considering, you probably shouldn't take it. Yes, it will boost your GPA if you pass, but if you don't... I wouldn't approach AP Calculus without a flamethrower and a biohazard suit. Rule of thumb, if it's a class you think you'd have trouble in at the normal level, don't take AP. Challenging yourself is all well and good as long as you're not beating your head against your desk mid-semester, praying for a way out.
I took APUSH and got a 5. I loved the class and the exam wasn't as bad as I was fretting.
I took AP Lit and Comp my senior year because I thought I was going to major in English during college, then I realized halfway through the course that I wanted nothing to do with it and sort of gave up. I ended up with a three on the exam (enough to waive my freshman WRA's so fine with me!), partially due to the fact that I had given up and partially due to the fact that I'd had a water polo game the previous night in what had to be the most chlorinated pool I had ever swam in and the chlorine destroyed my eyes. I had to take drops into the exam.
I really wanted to take WHAP but at my school it was only open to sophomores and they started teaching it my junior year.
I took APUSH last year (it's offered for sophomores at my school), and it was nightmarish. I don't think it was a good choice for me, because I'm more of a math/science person. (I got a 2 on the exam.) Now, as a junior, I'm taking AP Bio because I, my parents, and my teacher all know that I'm capable of passing it if I'm willing to put the effort in. Still, it doesn't make me especially happy.
I think all of these APs honestly depend on your teacher. For me, I've taken a total of 11 APs and done fairly well, but my favorite ones have to do with a) subjects I enjoy and b) teachers that I just love.
AP US Gov - Great because of the teacher, he himself almost got me interested in it very deeply. The subject itself is fascinating but can get soooo dull really quickly if you yourself don't have a vested interest in it.
AP Comp Gov - Same teacher, same criticism. Although if you prefer learning about diversity in cultures this is the way to go.
AP Physics B - GREAT teacher. The subject itself is immense and soooo thick, but the thing is that physics is so broad you don't have to do all that well to do well on the AP test. It's fun if you enjoy learning about how things work, but that's about it, or if you just love math/logic.
AP Chem - Awful teacher, very difficult subject. If you enjoy a combination of memorization + math or if you just enjoy chem, go for it. It's an immense amount of information to take in at once though.
AP Calculus BC - Eh. I enjoyed it because I'm a logic person, but again, very difficult for quite a few people. It gets really really abstract. Teacher was also really nice so yeah.
AP Euro - SO MUCH FUN. It's just a lot of work. This one's sooo heavily dependent on teacher it's ridiculous. Our teacher made it such a blast, but the content itself was still a ridiculous amount to intake.
AP Spanish - Ehhh? It's not that difficult, the test itself isn't terrible either. A large amount of it is practice and focus is all. I enjoyed my class so yeah it was good, but I skipped it a bunch because I just didn't like the workload.
AP Physics C - If you take B before this, it's such a blast cause some of it is just easy as crap. But you definitely need to be skilled in math/science or this class will torment you forever. It infuses physics with calculus. Doesn't sound like a blast for most people =P
AP Lit - Mm. The books were cool-ish, definitely some of the classics and most of the things you need to know, quotes, etc. Teacher was hilarious, and class was all around fun but the course load is always a bit intense for this class, you're aiming to get really good at writing + memorize a storyline/theme of multiple books for multiple scenarios. So take it if you really enjoy reading, I'd say.
AP Lang - I liked this class. Crazy crazy teacher, but very fun class. You read lots of interesting books here, see a glimpse of the classics, and argument/synthesis papers may just be freaking amazing :D You have to be a good writer, analyzer, (or be willing to learn to be either), and enjoy arguing to want to take this class, I'd say.
Oh right. That's 10. Physics C is two tests so technically that's 11 haha =P But yes, that's my take on all those classes.
I'm taking AP Language and AP US History right now and both are pretty nice though I prefer Language. I am mostly wondering about whether or not to take AP Statistics next year. I tend to do good at statistics when I work on them in a class or on a test, but my exposure is very limited. Also, I am fairly awful at all other kinds of math even though I have taken the higher classes offered (I struggle and end up with a B or C at the end of the year). So for anyone that has taken that class how difficult would you think it would be for someone who is not really (or pretty much at all) math-geared?