Staff editorial: AP classes improve

New changes make Advanced Placement classes better for students

In order to create more practical courses, the College Board is currently in the process of changing the guidelines for AP class curricula. Some AP classes have already undergone change, and next year AP U.S. History and AP Physics will undergo reformation as well.

The general trend in the AP changes is a shift from strict memorization of knowledge to an increasing use of skills and an application of concepts. The JagWire staff supports the integration of factual knowledge and conceptual abilities to create a more applicable learning experience.

On the newer versions of the AP tests, questions do not ask students to regurgitate information so much as apply it. The application of knowledge is an advanced skill that will assist any student in college and in life, and therefore it has a rightful place on AP tests. When students learn strategies for the new tests, they will also be learning strategies for their further education and careers. Simply memorizing facts is more likely to lead to the cramming of information that will easily be forgotten.

Memorization must not be downplayed too much, however. While AP classes will add more focus on skills and practicality, it is important not to disregard factual knowledge. College courses, and therefore advanced level courses, should offer specific facts for memorization. Proper knowledge of facts will help students understand the concepts, making them more capable of applying them. It is important to have a balance of both information and ideas in the classroom.

There are, of course, downsides to reforming curricula. The lack of practice tests for newer versions of the test make it difficult for students to study and for teachers to know how to teach the material. Changing lesson plans is no easy task, either. Some students may struggle as teachers adjust to new methods of teaching classes, and it may be difficult for them to acclimate to more difficult material in a class that is already hard. There are bound to be bugs in the system at the start.

While change can be difficult, if AP classes work to integrate information and skills, then they will prove to be much more practical for students in the long run. The key to improving the AP system is to maintain a balance between the two.

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