Every year thousands of high school and homeschool students supplement their learning experience with online AP courses. While the efficacy of online independent learning varies from student to student, a well thought out online AP course should meet some basic requirements. Let’s examine what makes a good online AP course and then take a closer look at the top five online ap courses and their associated platforms.
While there is nothing preventing you from studying independently for the AP exam, most people benefit from a course or exam prep program. The internet has made accessing these kinds of programs easier and more affordable than ever. However, all online AP courses are not created equal. When choosing online AP courses there are five elements to consider.
You wouldn’t go to a school or vocational training program that lacked the necessary accreditation to make their diploma worth more than the paper its printed on. Be equally diligent when pursuing online AP courses. Make sure that it is accredited by the College Board.
Accessible Instructors and Tech Support
Whether you have regular live tutorial sessions where you can ask you questions, or exchange messages through some other platform, your instructor needs to be able to respond in a timely manner to your concerns and questions. Assignments should be returned to you quickly and feedback should be specific and constructive. Similarly, the coursework interface should be easy to use and tech support should be highly responsive.
Coursework is nobody’s favorite activity, but it becomes even harder to get through when the material is dry and the presentation is uninspiring. A healthy mix of activities should be presented to engage students regardless of their learning style.
The workload should be reasonable. For most students, this is a course that is completed in addition to regular school work and other activities. The course should run long enough to allow the student to complete the coursework in a timely fashion, without overload. Beware of short “crash courses”. They are great for review or as a summer activity but are not recommended for those attempting to pass the AP Exam during the regular school year.
Learning is its own reward, but remember that the intention behind online AP courses is to prepare students to pass the exam. Mock tests, access to updated testing materials, and test taking strategies should all be part of the course.
What is the average score of students who complete the course and take the exam? What do instructors and scholastic reviewers have to say about the program? This type of information should be readily available. Be sure to do your due diligence and read independent reviews of the program before making your final decision.
Considering these five points we have picked the top five online AP courses. These are courses on reputable platforms who offer a dynamic learning experience that gets results.
1. AP US History from the UC system’s Scout program
This is a very test-centric curriculum. Students reported great satisfaction with the pace, instruction, and variety of activities in this program. It is also one of the more economical choices for online AP instruction. Included in this package are practice tests, study guides, test taking strategies and an AP Workshop.
2. AP Art History from the Florida Virtual School
Florida Virtual School is one of the online learning platforms that comes highly recommended. Students said they felt well prepared for the exam and the coursework wasn’t overly demanding. The course is free to Florida residents, and a very cost effective choice for anybody looking to study an AP course online.
3. AP Chemistry from ChemAdvantage
Chemistry is all they do, with a program focused primarily on the needs of homeschoolers. Students receive a complete lab kit to perform experiments, which is crucial since lab components are often missing from online courses. Instructors are responsive and flexible and the platform is reputable and easy to use.
4. AP Bio from Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth was designed for gifted students. You will need to meet certain prerequisites in order to participate in the AP courses. However, students and instructors alike have rated the CTY experience very highly. Instructors don’t just teach to the test but give the students an in-depth understanding of the subject as a whole. There is also room for struggling students to make up for shortfalls, with two of their lowest test scores dropped from the final grade.
5. PA Homeschoolers AP Courses
This is a unique addition to the list since we couldn’t find just one course to recommend. The only trick to this service is that you must be a registered home school student to participate. However, the coursework and the instructors are highly qualified and come highly recommended by educators and students alike.
When choosing an online AP course be sure to keep in mind your own learning needs. There is no one-size fits all method. While money is always a consideration you should avoid cutting corners in order to cut costs. This is especially true if you have special needs. Finding a program that is most compatible to your learning style and schedule can be the difference between getting a two or a three on the exam.
Students’ experiences with online AP courses vary wildly, but the common theme that runs through most of the negative reviews of specific courses is a lack of communication and technology meltdowns. Glitchy or buggy systems can cost you days of vital study time. And instructors that are hard to work with can leave you feeling abandoned.
Have you done any online learning? What did you find most helpful? Feel free to leave your comments and recommendations for online AP courses. Let us know what you think the best and the worst programs are.