Online AP Courses: Pros and Cons

Online AP Courses

Online AP Courses: Pros and Cons

Published February 17, 2022

Online AP Courses

You’ve weighed the pros and cons of the AP program, and you would like to have your student try out a class or two.

What if your student’s school doesn’t offer the program?

Or, maybe your student is homeschooled and would benefit from the challenge and college credit that can come from preparing for an AP exam?

Or, perhaps your student would like to try an AP exam in a class that isn’t offered at their school?

Regardless of your situation, your student can still get in on the benefits of taking an AP class and the particular AP class does not have to be offered at your student’s school.

They will just need to register for the exam, and then find approved online AP courses to help them prepare.

Here’s what you need to know.

Are Online AP Classes Worth the Effort?

The answer is that not all online AP courses are created equal.

There are thousands of online courses that claim to prepare your student for a specific AP exam.

However, not all classes live up to these claims.

The good news is that there is a way to find out before you spend the money.

You can look for specific criteria to help you distinguish the good from the bad.

The other thing to keep in mind is that online AP classes will take more focus and discipline from your student than an in-school class.

There is no one to force them to sit and listen for a specific period of time, manage their distraction, and keep them engaged.

Most online classes are self-paced, which can be great for motivated students but a real drawback for those who tend to procrastinate.

What to Look for in Online AP Classes

There is a variety of things to look for when you compare various online AP courses.

#1 Is the online class accredited?

Accreditation is vital.

If the class is not approved by the College Board in your state, then you have no guarantee that it will cover the material your student needs to pass the exam.

Here are some AP accredited online organizations to check out:

UC Systems Scout Program

Florida Virtual School

Johns Hopkins CTY


PA Homeschoolers AP Courses

#2 Is the teaching style engaging?

Teaching style is the next thing to consider.

Is the material presented in a way that is engaging, interesting, and clear?

Does it fit your student’s specific learning needs? There are a variety of learning styles, and no one is better than another.

However, having the material match the style of your student will help them succeed.

#3 Are teachers accessible and do they give good feedback?

Teachers should be accessible.

Your student should be able to get timely, useful feedback on their assignments and papers.

Sitting for the exam when your child still hasn’t heard back on work they submitted will not give them a lot of confidence.

#4 Is the workload bearable?

The workload should make sense for an AP exam.

Make sure your student understands how many hours per week is expected for the class.

You may want to help them make a schedule so they aren’t cramming every Friday to catch up.

#5 Is the online interface easy to use?

The interface and tech support should both be easy to understand and accessible.

The class interface online should be intuitive, and there should be someone to ask questions of if something goes wrong.

#6 How well do students of the online class do on the AP exam?

Graduates should do well on the AP exam.

Before you choose a course for your student, find out how graduates have done on the AP exam.

If graduates have done well, that’s a good sign.

Finally, reviews should be a major factor in your decision.

Look beyond the course’s website for testimonials and experiences from other families.

You can often Google the name of the course with “reviews” to find information

Pros and Cons of Online AP Classes

Don’t assume that you’ll have to shell out major cash for AP classes online.

Your student might just be able to find free and reduced-fee classes online.

In fact, many state-related providers offer a lower fee to in-state students.

You may be able to find free AP classes online if you look at virtual high school providers.

You’ll probably have to prove that you live in the appropriate state, community, or school district before your student can sign up.

It may be worthwhile to take highly-rated courses rather than classes that are local to your state, however you may find yourself paying quite a bit for these classes.

If your student is able to learn well on their own through reading however, you may want to let them self-study through AP preparation books.

This can save you a lot compared to structured online courses, but there won’t be interaction or anyone to ask questions of.

This can be a major drawback for many students.

There may be some additional drawbacks to taking AP classes online for certain students and many of them have to do with the absence of the type of interaction one would get in a classroom environment.

If your student is not a self-motivated student, he/she may have a difficult time getting work done without supervision.

If your student has a difficult time handling classes that are primarily text-based, then studying online may not be an optimal situation.

Another issue is whether or not your student has access to a computer that meets the technical requirements of the class.

Prepare Your Student Wisely for AP and College

Before your student commits to an online AP class and AP exam, make sure that the colleges they’re targeting reward AP scores with credit.

Also keep in mind that some admissions experts say students shouldn’t be concerned if their high school doesn’t offer AP classes because colleges evaluate applicants within the context of their high school.

Students should exhaust the gamut of rigorous classes offered at their own school before they choose to look elsewhere.

You also want to target schools where your student’s AP classes will help them stand out.

There are a variety of schools that are very generous with merit aid.

.Want to know more?

Check out our College Insights tool today!

By entering a student’s academic information, state of residency, location preference, along with interests in the arts, sports, STEM, and nursing, families will receive a list of colleges in order of merit or need-based generosity

If your student is not quite sure whether online AP courses are for them, check out how APs compare to dual enrollment classes to see which are right for your student.

Once your student has selected the AP course they are interested in, they may need help registering for the AP exam.






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