Pre-Course Work is Necessary for AP

Sarah Patrick

No student likes homework. But most complete it anyway, because they know they need the practice. Thus is the way with pre-course work for Advanced Placement classes. Every student hates it – and it is a student’s right to complain – but when it comes down to it, most will complete it. Recently, the school board voted to discontinue the practice of assigning summer work for all class, a policy change that will have far-reaching effects on AP classes.

The simple truth is: summer homework is necessary. AP classes are rigorous and demanding. The AP tests students take in May demand that the teachers cover a certain amount of material, often difficult to fit into a single-semester. Many times, students are expected to go into an AP class having already read the first few chapters of a history book, or completed certain books for AP English classes, in an attempt to give them and the teachers a head-start.

The reasoning behind the change suggests that summer homework is abused, that teachers assign too much or irrelevant material. I can’t speak for every teacher nor every class, but every piece of summer work I’ve done has helped me succeed in the class. Summer homework is the same as any homework: it allows for practice, breadth of experience, and note taking, all the skills necessary for taking an AP course.

Another argument asks, isn’t summer for fun? Should students really be doing homework when they’re off school? The answer is, yes. If they want to take an AP class, this is the type of commitment that is going to be expected throughout the duration of the class. It is admittedly a lot of work, but it is necessary work in order for students to succeed. The students must decide for themselves if the intensity of an AP course is right for them.

What if a student can’t complete the AP work for some reason? Doesn’t have the time? Students have all or most of the summer, meaning there should be no reason for incompletion. And if time is an issue, maybe they should not be taking the class. Higher level classes require more work; it is that simple, has always been that simple, and will continue to be that simple with or without pre-course work.

Additionally, AP classes move fast. In the past, teachers have been allowed to get a jump-start on that work, but now they have to cover more information in the same amount of time. Students struggle to keep up with homework plus extracurricular activities during the year. Completing work in leisure time over the summer is preferable than additional material piled on during the school year. Personally, as an AP student, I would rather do it over the summer and have the extra time.