The advantages and disadvantages of AP credit


My school doesn’t offer AP. I can’t take it and I know little about it - can someone run through the pro’s and con’s of AP? Cheers!


Hi! Great question.

AP serves the same purpose as scoring highly in the IB or CIE exams or getting transfer credit after studying at a university before going to the U.S. AP is a set of standardized tests/curriculums that cover similar content to that of intro courses at university. This means the university knows what you’ve learned and knows that you don’t need to learn it again - think chemistry 101, physics 101, computer science 101, calc 1 and calc 2, biology, etc.

If you already take the IB or CIE or some other well recognized curriculum, then I’m not sure what the advantage of AP is (from the perspective of credit) but it may offer you more opportunity to get credit and in more subjects. AP sounds particularly good for NCEA students.

It is helpful because it places you out of introductory university courses. The reasons why these courses are worth skipping is that:

  1. They’re needless to take at university. When you’re at university you want to be studying things you love with professors you love. Most people don’t enjoy intro courses too much.

  2. Intro courses can be brutal. You’re packed on a curve, often with pre-med and engineering students that are the brightest and hardest working of anyone. They’re also weed-out courses. That means that there’s unnecessary homework assignments, sometimes there’s participation credit and the exams can be difficult and unpredictable. They can be messy, frustrating experiences.

  3. You might as well teach yourself anyway. I didn’t attend the lectures of one or two classes each semester for my first three semesters because I knew the content from high school and if not, I’d watch Khan Academy/Youtube and teach myself. Learning online is much easier because you don’t need to leave your room, you can watch at double speed, pause, replay and without exception (in my case) you’ll be able to find better youtubers than TA’s that might be teaching your intro course.

  4. AP is much less work. Without a doubt, you’ll spend less hours studying for your AP’s than you will for your intro courses, and there’s no significant benefit to “knowing more” from the intro course.

Contrasting points:

  1. Although they can be painful, the content of intro courses isn’t too hard. If you’re on top of it and have friends in the class, you can become efficient at homework and studying. You can give yourself a good probability of an A by putting in the work, especially if you’ve learned the stuff in NCEA/Scholarship/other curriculums.

  2. Intro classes is a good chance to make friends within your yeargroup (though upper-level classes allow you to make friends with generally more inaccessible upper year levels).

  3. Not taking AP’s means one less thing to do at high school.

Hope this has been helpful!

Credit Transfer from Auckland Uni to U.S. Uni