Next Steps When Student Is Barred From Taking AP Class

I think it is important though that there be an appeal process available, as opposed to a hard and fast rule on cutoffs.

In the first semester of my kid’s sophomore year in HS, he had a B+ in his World History class which meant no go for APUSH the following year. My kid pestered the teacher so much about allowing him to take APUSH that he wrote me a note on his persistence. He was actually a real ass about it, insisting that he wouldn’t approve the class no matter what his arguments were. I wrote back that his mother had passed away 6 months prior and that was really affecting everything, something that my kid did not and could not express at the time. I got the teacher to finally agree to re-evaluate at the end of the year. He got an A the second half and was allowed to go onto APUSH.

Another option for a highly motivated student who has been barred from an AP class that they really DO have the ability to succeed in, is to go to and take the class online for free, and just take the AP exam, without having taken the AP class in the high school. It’s got to look pretty impressive if you can get a 4 or a 5 on an AP without ever having taken the class. It could even be used as a hook for an admission essay, about how your persistence as a motivated, self-directed learner allowed you to overcome the lack of available seats in AP classes at your high school.

Or maybe just sign up as a non matriculated student at a local community college and take gen ed classes for actual guaranteed transferable credit. Many of them are online and you don’t even have to go to campus.

Wow. Here at our large suburban HS you can always choose to override the schools placement. I guess enough of the parents are lawyers or have the money to pay one that the school doesn’t want to risk the “you’ve discriminated against my kid because of gender or learning disability or some other bad reason” lawsuit.

If the mother in the post reads this, can you please cut your kid some slack? You’re setting her up for terrible stress. The school is very sensible. AP physics is not easy. If she couldn’t get an A or B in regular physics, what makes you think she’s going to handle AP physics? BTW, there is no prize for taking the most APs. It does not improve your chances of getting into super competitive colleges to take 11 versus 12.

The more I think about this, the more it angers me. Really mom? You would pull your kid out of her current school, missing her senior year with her friends, making her adjust to a new environment, for the sake of an AP class that literally will not make one iota of difference to her chances of getting into a top school? AND, a class that she has little chance of doing well in, most likely at the expense of good grades in an undoubtedly heavy schedule? That’s beyond ridiculous.

FWIW, my daughter appealed and was allowed into AP Stats. She wasn’t in the advanced math track, so they said she couldn’t take AP stats until she was a senior. That wasn’t going to work with her schedule, so she appealed based on her very strong grades in all her then-classes. She got straight A’s in AP Stats, and in fact, as a junior in college, excels in stats so much that she was hired as a campus stats tutor. Sometimes appeals are justified. Not when a student can’t get a B in a regular level class though.

“go to and take the class online for free, and just take the AP exam, without having taken the AP class in the high school. It’s got to look pretty impressive if you can get a 4 or a 5 on an AP without ever having taken the class.”

Show me a C-student who has time for a free non-credited online class plus time to study for an AP exam, and I’ll show you someone who, if they are hoping to get into a decent college, has their priorities in the wrong place. Don’t get me wrong - colleges appreciate intellectual curiosity - but the preferred way to show it is to do well in the regular classes (whether they are APs or not) and participate in ECs in a meaningful way.

“Or maybe just sign up as a non matriculated student at a local community college and take gen ed classes for actual guaranteed transferable credit.”

DE’s can be enriching and beneficial, but for a student having difficulty in high school level classes, DE’s are a sharp, double-edged sword. Dual enrollment grades follow the student, sometimes becoming part of their college GPAs. All grades from college classes must be sent when applying for 4-year colleges AND to graduate school. Some state schools make students ineligible for financial aid if their GPA goes below a certain level. Do poorly in college classes taken while in high school and a student could find himself/herself shut out from financial aid at his/her own state’s colleges before he/she has even graduated high school.

Whether a student has 2 or 4, 8 or 17 AP classes is, in large part, a factor of high school policies. Some schools don’t permit freshmen or sophomores to take ANY AP classes. Others do, but limit the number. Others schools are limitless (when you hear of a kid with 15+ APs, they’re probably from this kind of restriction-free school). Some schools have four or five periods a day (block schedule), some have 6, 7, 8 or 9. Some schools have more graduation requirements than others, and those classes aren’t usually APs, or even weighted. Some schools don’t offer APs at all because they are on the IB system or because they believe their own honors curriculum is superior. That’s why the sheer number of APs on the transcript is hardly the most useful point of comparison among applicants.

@maya54 Same. I see parents override teacher recommendations all the time. I also see a lot of really stressed, tense kids!

I am the only one who has never heard of a kid taking a class ie Physics, then retaking it as an AP? In my world, if the student took Physics H, it’s a done deal and time for another science class

At my daughter’s school, they offer Physics (full year) and then AP Physics C (Mechanics) for which the first class is the prerequisite.

There are 4 AP Physics classes, although schools generally don’t offer all 4.

AP Physics 1 is almost always a first physics course.
AP Physics C :Mechanics almost always requires AP Physics 1 or Physics CP or H (plus calculus concurrently or as a prereq). If you want to see stressed kids, look at the ones that somehow managed to take AP Physics C as their first physics course.

AP Physics 2 usually has AP Physics 1 as a prereq
AP Physics C: E&M usually has AP Physics C: Mech as a prereq (or both mech and E&M are taught as a single course, but with 2 AP exams)

That makes more sense. Clearly my kids just took regular ole Physics ?

Our school, and almost all those in the area, have Honors Physics and then Calculus-based AP Physics C as a sequence/pre-requisite. I don’t think any offer AP Physics 1 or 2, which are algebra-based and typically not accepted for college credit, as least at the STEM majors we looked at. Most schools required a 5 on the AP exam, and even then encouraged kids to still take it. As noted above, AP Physics in HS is significantly different from most freshman physics classes for science/engineering majors.

Many colleges do offer credit for AP Physics 1 or 2, but Physics and Engineering majors only accept AP Physics C or college Physics with Calculus. For example Penn and Brown accept AP Physics 1 and 2 credit with scores of 5: (Click “Applying/AP”) If you take and get a high score on both Physics 1 and Physics C Mechanics exams, then you will only get credit for one of them.

However, since AP physics 1 and 2 correspond to physics for biology majors, which is often taken by pre-meds, getting credit can be a dilemma for pre-meds. Some medical schools do not accept AP credit in place of pre-med course requirements, although they may accept higher level courses (but there are typically no higher level courses after physics for biology majors). But repeating AP physics 1 and 2 credit with physics for biology majors in college means looking like a grade-grubber to medical schools reading the application.

It’s very common for colleges to cap AP credit to two of the physics exams. Here’s another example from the UCs:

The local high school here, will not allow you to take an AP exam unless the school offers the course or you took the class with them. They made that rule after my oldest took the AP exam (5) as a self study.

DD’s school had the honors science course as the prereqs for the corresponding APs. In her school it was 9th grade H bio, 10th H chem, 11th H physics and then an AP science in 12th. For Physics the only option was C - 1 semester of mechanics, 1 semester of E&M, only offered to seniors. Only a handful of students had more than one AP science as a result.

Now that’s something I would highly contest. True, it’s extra administration / proctor costs for the school but it inhibits the smart and ambitious kids. I’m going to guess that at my kid’s former HS, at least 10% of the students self study for something, with the most popular being AP MacroEcon and AP MicroEcon - because the class is not offered as an AP.

@ProfessorPlum168 You picked your battles with the school since it was taken out on your kids grades. The laws they broke was unbelievable. I had enough on one teacher that they would have lost their federal funding. AP costs would have been shared with three other public and three private high schools. They wanted cookie cutter kids.

Skimming through this. Did the original poster delete the post?

I wanted to let the poster know that if their student is pre-med, that the MCAT tests them on algebra-based physics. For that reason, my d decided not to take AP Physics in high school because it is calc based. From what I understand, AP Physics is one of the hardest AP courses. Why encourage your child to put themselves through this course unless they intend to pursue a college major such as engineering?

Also of note. Is that my d got a full-ride scholarship at Big Ten university with only 10 APs + 1 dual-credit course. So, the poster is definitely not on the right track regarding their college admissions strategy. Most important is high GPA, high ACT/ SAT test scores, and demonstration of the ability of succeeding in college coursework by showing mastery of concepts taught in AP courses taken (through grades in course + AP score). Taking many AP courses is not necessary to demonstrate the ability to succeed in college. Mastery of a few AP courses will accomplish this.

My d took honors physics in high school (with As) and got As in college algebra-based physics. She has friends who skipped the first calc-based physics class in college because of their AP credit and who did poorly in their college physics class and had to repeat the course.