Are AP Classes Actually Worth the GPA Boost?

Students continue to stack up their workload with multiple AP classes. Photo credit to

Emily Marohn, Staff Writer

Freedom High School, in South Riding, VA, is known for being extremely competitive academically. After all, FHS is ranked 30th out of 623 Virginia high schools for academics. Due to this high standard of “needing” good grades, students have challenged themselves with AP classes since sophomore year.

Students of the 2022 graduating class at FHS are pushing themselves more than ever. Senior Bella Neff is currently enrolled in six AP classes. She is taking AP Calc BC, AP Psychology, AP Biology, AP Government, AP Spanish and AP Literature, all this year. Neff is constantly working hard, however, she does not regret getting into AP classes when she did.

“I started [taking AP classes] sophomore year,” Neff said. “I’m happy with where I started because I was able to take Pre-AP classes freshman year, so I feel like it prepared me. You’re going to end up taking one anyway at some point, so you might as well kind of start.”

Other students in Freedom have felt the same way about the preparation these courses offer. Eliza Varanelli, an FHS sophomore, is currently taking her first AP class this year. She believes that starting later would’ve set her back, but the sophomore level seems to be different compared to the junior/senior standard.

Unlike Neff, who has only been given the option of writing her own notes, Varanelli said, “it’s mostly writing notes on our own, but our teacher does go over them with a slide presentation and ask us questions if we need it.”

But are these students really paying attention for their own knowledge, or are they taking the class for the one point GPA boost? Taking an AP course at Freedom has a bonus of raising the class’s GPA by one whole point. For example, obtaining an A in an academic classroom would normally be a 4.0 GPA. However, when taking AP, the student’s GPA for that specific class with an A would be a 5.0.

Emily Luu, an FHS senior, has been taking AP classes since junior year.

Luu said, “I feel like it’s a mix of both [taking the AP class for my own knowledge and for the one point GPA boost]. I want to challenge myself, but also the GPA boost is nice, and I can’t say that I’m not taking it just for academic leverage.”

Not only do these classes offer a one point benefit, but there is an option to take the AP exam at the end of the year.

“I’ve taken the exams so I could try to get college credit,” said Luu.

Many students at Freedom have taken the option of the AP exam to help themselves out and get ahead for college. These credits are able to transfer over to whichever college a student applies to, and can be beneficial to future circumstances.

Overall, the GPA boost can be helpful, but the stress of these classes is what makes Freedom students hesitant to start sooner. Living up to a certain standard can put lots of pressure on teenagers’ plates, especially when in college there are no GPA boosts involved. 

So is it worth taking an AP class? That’s up to what’s best for the students themselves! There are pros and cons, as there are in any situation. Sticking to what an individual is most comfortable with may lead to positive results. But a student setting themselves up for a challenge can result in new knowledge gained, not only for the GPA boost!