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Know Thyself: Setting Up for Success in Multiple AP Classes

Success in an AP class is much easier to achieve than you think

Advanced Placement courses are well-known for being rigorous and fast-paced. What may be news to many people is that students have started to take more AP classes at the same time. This is posing new time management challenges to students all over the country who already face increasingly competitive college admission processes and huge extracurricular activity loads. So—how can students thrive under the pressures of multiple AP classes?

All of my advice stems from my own experiences and a piece of wisdom from the classical period. On the Temple of Apollo (The Greco-Roman deity of many things—including light and reason), there is an inscription which reads, “Know Thyself.” This advice appears in countless sources and is often linked to both Plato and Socrates (which must mean it is good, right?).

  • Be interested in the content of the course—or at least have a clear reason for taking the course. Definitely try to get into classes which interest you, but this might not always be possible (Not all AP course offerings are created equal). Even if you’re not a history buff, you may find motivation by thinking about being exempt from an intro course when you get to college.

  • Make sure that you have the proper background for the course. While individual schools often have their own set of prerequisites, the College Board also provides their own suggestions. Even though AP students are usually some of the best and brightest, it is unwise to overextend yourself by overestimating your abilities. There are certainly underclassmen that thrive in AP courses, but not everyone is ready for the work right away. Talk to older students and current teachers in order to gauge your readiness for a year with multiple AP classes.

  • Capture key dates and deadlines. Being able to see when your tough weeks fall on the calendar might ease your mind because you will know what to expect. Use a planner or digital calendar to set reminders and track your progress.

  • Pick courses which complement one another. Adopting a holistic approach to learning will save you time and energy. Studying will no longer be compartmentalized into traditional categories—you will have more opportunities to draw connections between different classes.

A key step to thriving in multiple AP courses depends on preparation and forethought. Although you can’t predict the future or plan for everything, thinking ahead is imperative to your success. Know yourself and make the best choices for you, regardless of the choices others make for themselves.