Posts Tagged ‘ap class’

How Do College Admissions Look at Weighted GPA, Unweighted GPA and Class Rank?

Categories: Admissions Advice

Taking AP examsLately at Cappex.com, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about the difference between weighted GPA, unweighted GPA and class rank when it comes to college admissions.  Does taking harder classes and AP classes actually pay off in college admissions?  How do college admissions compare weighted and unweighted GPAs?  where does my class rank fit in with all of this?

Fortunately, we’ve got some answers for you.   Mark Montgomery of Montgomery Educational Consulting answers questions about weighted and unweighted GPAs in a blog post saying:

Most colleges will consider both your weighted and unweighted GPA, and most high schools will report both to the colleges to which you are applying.

Colleges want the weighted GPA to reflect your class rank, as well as the relative rigor of your high school course load. But they will not use this weighted GPA in comparing you with other applicants.

Montgomery goes on to explain that to colleges, “an A is an A.”  Rationalizing the fact that you got a B in an honors class doesn’t mean that you actually got an A if you were in a regular class.  It might have been a hard class, but your teacher still saw your work as B work.  Even though your weighted GPA shows the difficulty of your coursework, your unweighted GPA is a reflection of your performance in those classes.

So, what’s the point then of taking more challenging classes?  Montgomery does give the plus-side to taking AP classes, though.  He says that colleges will look at both your weighted and unweighted GPA:

Colleges want the weighted GPA to reflect your class rank, as well as the relative rigor of your high school course load. But they will not use this weighted GPA in comparing you with other applicants.

In short, college admissions officers do like to see that students challenge themselves by taking heavier course loads.  At the same time, your weighted grade might not actually weigh much more than your unweighted grades.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to take AP classes besides just impressing an admissions officer.  Allen Grove of About.com, writes that students who take AP classes can develop college-level skills, save money, choose a major sooner, take more elective classes in college and more.

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Rethinking Advanced Placement Classes for College

AOtestsThere’s a huge rush for college-bound students to sign up for AP classes in high school so they can accumulate early college credit after taking the college board AP exams.  To students, taking AP classes means they can take the AP test and pass out of intro classes in college to save time and save money in college.  But, the recent New York Time’s article points out, students aren’t necessarily getting the most out of these challenging college classes.   Often times high school teachers wind up teaching just for the AP test and pass over the importance of abstract and analytical thinking that is needed to succeed in college.

This teaching for the test trend, however, is about to change.   College Board will embark on a new direction for Advanced Placement that is anchored in a curriculum that focuses on what students need to be able to do with their knowledge, not just how to take a test:

As A.P. has proliferated, spreading to more than 30 subjects with 1.8 million students taking 3.2 million tests, the program has won praise for giving students an early chance at more challenging work. But many of the courses, particularly in the sciences and history, have also been criticized for overwhelming students with facts to memorize and then rushing through important topics. Students and educators alike say that biology, with 172,000 test takers this year, is one of the worst offenders.

A.P. teachers have long complained that lingering for an extra 10 or 15 minutes on a topic can be a zero-sum game, squeezing out something else that needs to be covered for the exam. PowerPoint lectures are the rule. The homework wears down many students. And studies show that most schools do the same canned laboratory exercises, providing little sense of the thrill of scientific discovery….

….Next month, the board, the nonprofit organization that owns the A.P. exams as well as the SAT, will release a wholesale revamping of A.P. biology as well as United States history — with 387,000 test takers the most popular A.P. subject. A preview of the changes shows that the board will slash the amount of material students need to know for the tests and provide, for the first time, a curriculum framework for what courses should look like. The goal is to clear students’ minds to focus on bigger concepts and stimulate more analytic thinking. In biology, a host of more creative, hands-on experiments are intended to help students think more like scientists.

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