Should I take AP's?
Hello! I am a freshman thinking about building my resume.
I go to an IB school, so from 7th-10th you are on the MYP track (middle Years Programme) and you can't choose your classes. Usually you take honors math and science, and the rest are regular. But keep in mind, any IB class is advanced, regular or honors. By 11th and 12th, you are in the Diploma Program, which is kind of like AP but slightly more rigorous, I guess. In the DP, you can take SL (standard level, so like AP) or HL (harder than AP). Again, no choice in classes. So my question is, should I take AP exams? We don't offer AP classes at my school, but anyone can self study the exams. I would rather not, but would taking like 3 AP exams throughout high school (one per year starting next year) still look good? Or should I just focus on other things? My main problem is that course rigor is realllyyy important for admissions so should I take the time and money to do this?
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Great question. As far as coursework is concerned, there are two critical things to know. First, course rigor is extremely important to admissions officers at elite colleges. (It seems you already realize this.) Second, grades in courses that go on your high school transcript are more important than separate test scores in those classes and more important than grades from classes that don't go on your transcript. (This is all to say that your grade in an AP class is generally more important than your score on the AP exam, and that your grade in AP Computer Science is more important than the grade you got in a CS class you took on Coursera.)
With this in mind, if you're set on the most elite colleges, your main goal in your high school coursework should be to take the IB courses necessary to get your IB Diploma (ideally taking as many IB HL courses as you can) and to do as well in all of your courses as possible. Not having agency in determining your course schedule isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, you'll be taking rigorous courses anyway, and also you and/or your guidance counselor can explain to your admissions officers that your course schedule was predetermined.
This is not to say that taking AP exams before you've taken IB HLs isn't impressive. If you have time and energy to self study some AP exams (especially in subjects in which you're not also taking IB SLs or HLs) and do well on them, that will definitely look good on your application. However, the more important thing is just to do as well as possible in the courses that will go on your transcript. Depending on how things are going for you currently, your time might be better spent working on your courses and focusing on your extracurricular engagement than on self studying AP exams.
1) Just focus on your IB classes. Spend your time elsewhere rather than on AP exams like maybe another club or something. Unless you really want to try AP course material, your IB classes will get you college credit still I believe so don't worry about AP exams. If you are worried about course rigor, don't be because the colleges get your school profile and they will know what the class or course system is like.
2) Just do them. As long as you aren't cramming like fifty activities in your senior year where you make a nonprofit, start several clubs, or whatever, these extracurriculars will talk about your interests. These interests don't even need to be related and that can be a plus as it shows other sides of you.
I hope that this helped but I am sure that others have better answers.
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