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Retaking classes I can use AP credits to place out of - yes/no?

ASH5297ASH5297 Registered User Posts: 62 Junior Member
edited May 2012 in College Life
Coming into my freshman year at the University of Maryland, I have about 43 credits that I have earned through 10 AP classes in high school (already checked and verified from UMD's online table). I've already decided that I'm going to be on the pre-med track, as I want to go to medical school after I graduate. My cousin (who's already been through the system), told me that, at least for classes that are Pre-Med requirements, I should retake the classes in order to start college off with a very high gpa that will be tough to lower later on when I'm taking harder classes.

His rationale is that because I've already taken these classes and gotten 4s and 5s on their respective AP exams, I know the subject material, and I should be able to breeze through their intro level classes, and earn a very high freshman year GPA. However, I'm hesitant, mainly because we're talking about more than a semester's worth of credits that I'm leaving on the table.

Does anyone have any experience retaking classes/ can anyone advise me at all? TIA
Post edited by ASH5297 on

Replies to: Retaking classes I can use AP credits to place out of - yes/no?

  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,297 Senior Member
    Our S entered USoCal with 60 credits between the APs he took (got 2 4s and the rest 5s, plus one course in statistics he took at local U summer after 10th grade). He chose NOT to try to opt out of the courses but re-took ALL of them. He did well in them (better than HS) and was able to devote his energies to getting settled, working on his living arrangements & more social concerns. He was able to graduate in electrical engineering in 4 years as an honor grad (GPA >3.5), with higher grades than HS. He admitted to us that he didn't learn anything new (that wasn't covered in HS) until his 4th semester in EE. S had no regrets about his choices.

    A friend's S chose to get exempted out of all the courses he could so he could push ahead and take more advanced courses from his 1st semester. He was HIGHLY motivated & after 4 years + 1 or more summer terms will be getting a BS in Finance, BS in Chemical Engineering & MBA in Finance. Being exempted from the AP courses just made his courses more challenging from day 1 but he wanted to do things the way he did. He has no regrets.

    You might want to speak with your HS & college advisors about what they recommend, pros & cons of each course of action for YOU.
  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 3,009 Senior Member
    In the talk to parents at orientation of my D honor program, director addressed concerns about using AP scores to move into higher level classes, specifically math and science. He very much suggested, for instance, not going straight to organic chemistry, which technically you could do. The honors program actually has a "bridge" chem class to address these students so they will be properly prepared for orgo. Part of issue is that students probably had some of there classes over a year ago and college level sciences can be more difficult. Advice for math was to look at syllabus and decide. For my D, her 5 in BC, plus talk with HS teacher, plus fact that college used same text as AP, she was comfortable going straight to vector (made A).

    If you are pre-med, I'd seriously look at retaking bio and chem. It's too important to get the foundation. Still leaves you with lots of AP credit to give your schedule some breathing room. Ideally, talk to someone you equate yourself with who has either skipped or retaken. On the other hand, maybe talk to someone from your HS who did it...maybe your HS sciences were extremely good.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,616 Senior Member
    ASH5297 wrote:
    His rationale is that because I've already taken these classes and gotten 4s and 5s on their respective AP exams, I know the subject material, and I should be able to breeze through their intro level classes, and earn a very high freshman year GPA. However, I'm hesitant, mainly because we're talking about more than a semester's worth of credits that I'm leaving on the table.

    Be aware that a lot of pre-meds retake their AP credit, so the grading curves in those courses may be tougher than you think.

    Also note that many/most medical schools do not accept AP credit for some or all of their pre-med course requirements (which also vary by medical school), so you are likely to have to retake the courses or take more advanced courses in the same subject areas (check the pre-med forum if you have more questions). This is mainly an issue for science, math, statistics, and English composition course subjects, as opposed to non-pre-med course subjects like history, economics, government / political science, etc..

    You may want to see if old final exams for the courses you are considering skipping with AP credit are available. If so, try the final exams to see how well know know the material from the college's point of view. Normally, if you do skip a course, you effectively get a free elective in its place (often later), but the pre-med situation means that (for courses in pre-med subjects) you probably have to use the course slot for a more advanced course in the same subject area if you skip a course. Some colleges do have special courses for students entering with AP credit in the subject, so that they need not repeat the AP credit but can learn the parts in the college course but not in the AP course.
    HImom wrote:
    He admitted to us that he didn't learn anything new (that wasn't covered in HS) until his 4th semester in EE.

    Hmmm, three semesters of cost of attendance to learn nothing new does not seem like a bargain to me.
  • pacificvistapacificvista Registered User Posts: 366 Member
    You might be thinking that you should probably skip those intro classes but quite honestly as a pre-med, you need a really solid background in intro chemistry to do well in Organic Chemistry. Plus, I think a lot of medical schools recommend that you take higher level up classes to compensate for the fact that you used your AP credits on required intro classes. If I were a freshman and I was dedicated, I would retake the classes, and study for the MCAT at the same time. It won't retract from getting your degree on time, and you will able to just be better adjusted.
  • spectasticspectastic - Posts: 847 Member
    I would recommend you use those AP credits for college credit. The only two good reasons I can think of that one would retake those classes is: easy A and good foundational knowledge. I've retaken classes before. IMO, it's not worth it. You might get an easy A, provided you don't get bored to death and start skipping class. A lot of the material will be repetitive. you might learn something new, but ultimately, you will use none of that 5 years from now. Gen chem and o-chem are pretty important, but you're going to get plenty of practice along the way, don't worry.

    I jumped ahead as much as I could, with AP credits, college classes, etc. I was pretty much done with a math minor before I even enrolled. One draw back is I remember absolutely nothing from diff eq or linear algebra. I'm never going to use them anyway. And it's not like people remember these things. Of course we forget if we don't use them. Just remember you're paying for the credit, not for the knowledge. Knowledge is free.
  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 33,297 Senior Member
    For us, it was good for S to actually be able to attend class, since he missed 1/2 of SR year when he was taking many of his AP courses. Additionally, many of his peers were also re-taking the courses and it allowed him a nice cushion and foundation, since engineering does seem to build. Even though he did take the courses in HS, we left the choice of whether to challenge the U to opt out of repeating or sticking with the peers and repeating up to him--no regrets.
  • fearemanfeareman Registered User Posts: 475 Member
    I know very smart people who made the mistake of thinking they could get an easy A in courses that they had credit for. You can end up with a professor who refuses to give any As... not to mention AP exams are not difficult. Only retake them if you feel like you don't know the material.

    Not to mention it is a waste of time... you could be taking general interest courses or advancing further in your major.
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