Why is APUSH So Hard? [Opinions]

Only a 48% pass rate for the exam.
Why is APUSH So Hard? [Opinions]

To AP or not to AP, that is the question.

A question that many students, especially rising Juniors ask themselves as they are confronted with their class selections for next year, specifically history.

As AP Test Season comes up these next two weeks at Grandview, a lot of students reflect on the difficulty of AP exams and classes they’ve taken during their time at Grandview.

However, despite all being Advanced Preparation, students and teachers alike have set their own lists for some of the most difficult exams to date, ranging from AP Physics 1 all the way to AP Human Geography.

And yet, despite being a required class to graduate, APUSH (AP U.S History) only has a 48% pass rate, with over 470,000 students nationally taking it each year, a marginally low percentage, and ranking amongst some of the lowest.

Every student at Grandview must take certain classes to graduate, and although the AP alternative isn’t required, oftentimes students will take it in order to gain that extra college credit and waive some money from their tuition.

“A student studying computer science and humanities […] saved around $38,000 in tuition by taking four AP classes,” in the state of Illinois, and oftentimes these numbers are common for students who take AP classes. All of that money is off for only an entrance fee of 100 dollars.

And yet, only around 22% or less of students even pass the APUSH exam with a 3, the lowest score that will often net college credit. The reason is a lot more complicated than students might initially think.

“In my personal opinion, AP U.S is [a] more difficult course because it covers a shorter period of time and there’s a lot more detail to the material,” popular history teacher and YouTuber, Heimler’s History said.

Of course, most AP classes also require a lot more engagement and studying with the material, especially with U.S History having 9 periods that cover in-depth topics from 1941 all the way to present day.

If students themselves aren’t willing to value their own education and study for these difficult exams, oftentimes they won’t be able to pass with higher marks simply because of the pure concentration of material in APUSH’s curriculum.

In addition to the shorter period, the experience of learning U.S history as a whole can be dictated by your teachers, and their quality of teaching the subjects present in the class.

“I definitely think it’s important to have a good quality teacher, and I think Mr. Rios provided that and I think all teachers do at Grandview,” junior Jake Chau said in regards to the AP Exam. “I felt like [Rios’] took a lot of the stress away, and it’s already a pretty stressful and heavy management class. I was so well-prepared from the teachers, and all the content we continuously got,” Chau continued.

Despite all the planning, newly arisen technical difficulties now can further inhibit test-takers, making the test that much harder.

“It was the first year of the digital exam, and my AP exam failed,” Chau said, having taken the APUSH his sophomore year. Despite his personal difficulties, “I think that the digital is probably better, […] it is the way it is going to go. Everything else we do is digital anyways, so why not AP exams?”

Which brings you back to your decision, to AP or not to AP.

As a current APUSH student, taking the AP route is definitely more difficult than taking CE/CP, however the payoff, the extent of information you learn, and the possible college benefits highly outweigh the difficulty of the test.

If students plan on going to college, taking AP classes, especially a difficult course such as APUSH, could warrant and grant them more opportunities and less money spent.

EXAM DATE – Friday, May 10th, 2024.

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About the Contributor
Evan Deickman
Evan Deickman, Opinions Manager
Hi! I’m Evan, and this is my sophomore year at Grandview and my second year on The Chronicle Staff. I’m a part of the Opinions Department. My favorite Chronicle memory was a team dinner last year that I definitely overdressed for. An interesting fact about me is that I play volleyball and cook.

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