AP Classes: A Double-Edged Sword


     Anyone taking or teaching an AP class currently (during the spring semester) can attest to the immense level of stress that has come with having to cram a semester’s worth of information into a time frame of a little over 3 months. Students often complain that a rushed spring semester does not allot them enough time to properly absorb the material.

     On the contrary, students will often criticize fall semester AP classes due to the lengthy period of time between the class and the AP exam. With months of learning new information from different classes, students are bound to grow hazy on the class’ content come the test in May. Since AP exams in Wake County (and most places) are only offered at the end of second semester, those who took the class during first semester feel at a disadvantage. 

     While these arguments may be contradicting, they both exude validity and reason. This being the case, it’s helpful to gain insight from those most directly affected by the issue: The students. Below are the results, demographic, and quotes from an anonymous online survey made available to students of Wake County schools. 



61% of students said they would rather take an AP class during fall semester.

39% of students said they would rather take an AP class during spring semester. 



In favor of fall semester: 

  • “Spring Semester is in my sports season.” – Anonymous Apex High School Senior 
  • The semester is longer so you’re less rushed.” – Anonymous Green Level High Junior 
  • “I lowkey just like taking them in the first semester so the second isn’t very stressful.” – Anonymous Green Level High Sophomore
  • “You have more time to learn the material and process the information while in spring semester you have to learn all the information quicker and more rushed.”  – Anonymous Green Level Junior 
  • both are fine for ap. I would rather take 2 or less in fall because there are more events and extracurriculars going on. I would take 2 or 3 in spring if I had less things going on. One benefit to taking APs in the fall is having more time to cover all of the content instead of compacting it before AP exams in may.” – Anonymous Panther Creek High Junior
  • “I like to be less stress towards the end of the year” – Anonymous Green Hope High Senior
  • “You can spend more time on the content and you don’t have to rush into anything. I used to like them in spring semester better because then I would have remembered more for the AP test, but it’s just a lot more stressful second semester.” – Anonymous Green Level High Sophomore 
  • “Spring semester moves way too fast and it is hard to keep up.” – Anonymous Green Level High Junior 
  • “With the spring semester there are final tests in addition to AP testing.” – Anonymous Green Level High Junior 
  • More time to learn .” – Anonymous Green Level High Junior 
  • “Because I got that back to school motivation and during that last semester, I don’t feel like doing anything.” – Anonymous Green Level Junior 


In favor of spring semester: 

  • “So I don’t forget the material for the exam!” – Anonymous Thales Academy Junior 
  • “I chose spring semester because that is when the AP exams are. Yes there is a shorter time frame for instruction but that is better than not receiving instruction a full semester before the exam.” – Anonymous Cary High Junior
  • “The issue with the fall semester is that even though you have more time to learn the information you have time to forget it during the spring semester while learning the information for your new AP classes.” – Anonymous Green Level Junior 
  • “There are no problems with the fall semester, but there are a lot more required activities and requirements for the new school year. It is helpful to take more AP classes in the spring to be ready for the AP exam in May without review.” – Anonymous Panther Creek Junior 
  • “Just because of sports, I would rather take that class later in the year where I have more time to focus on it.” – Anonymous Panther Creek High Junior 


     In conclusion, while the majority of Wake County students in this survey would prefer taking fall semester AP classes, there is still a strong difference of opinion on the matter. The core argument for those who prefer fall semester classes is the extended time to learn the material. In addition, most students experience a decrease in motivation come spring semester. The main argument for those who prefer taking AP classes in the spring semester is the close proximity of the class to the exam. It is important to note that certain opinions revolve around personal schedule, for example, there were responses in favor of both spring and fall semester whose explanation was dependent on their sport season. 

     Taking an AP class is ideal for many students given it proves academic strength and provides college credit, However, the question of when one should take an AP class is nearly impossible to form a solid conclusion on considering both spring and fall semester offer positive and negative qualities. This double-edged nature of AP classes adds to the difficulty that comes with taking an advanced class. So, to any students taking an AP class this year, make sure to study hard for your upcoming exams, and know The Gator’s Eye staff wishes you the best of luck!